On 14 November a council meeting of the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity was organized during which the book EU Enlargement Anno 2012; A Progressive Engagement was presented. The book is the result of a joint project of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and the European Forum. The book was published by the S&D group in the European Parliament.
On the occasion of the launch of the book, which focuses mainly on the western Balkans, an inspiring panel discussion was chaired by Jan Marinus Wiersma, Vice-President of the European Forum and FEPS Secretary General Ernst Stetter. The panel was formed by three experts on EU-enlargement in general and the Western Balkans in particular. MEP and PES Chair of the Task Force on Western Balkans Kristian Vigenin gave a balanced enumeration of the recent positive and alarming developments and the lessons we should learn from them. He focused on the unfixed problems the EU faces on the regional/bilateral level and how this makes the accession-process unpredictable. Director for the Western Balkans in the European Commission Directorate General for Enlargement, Pierre Mirel, emphasized the responsibilities of both the EU and the aspirant countries. He argued that the EU should stick to the commitments it made to these countries and that the aspirant countries should overcome internal, historical and bilateral issues in order to claim membership. Maja Nenadović, researcher at the University of Amsterdam, regretted that vision is missing from the enlargement project. She reminded the audience that the “why” of the original foundation of the EU, to overcome dichotomies on the continent, is missing in the current discourse.
Since EU accession anno 2012 in the first place concerns the countries of the Western Balkans, a group of participants of the Course for Promising Politicians was invited to visit the council meeting. In addition, members of the PES Task Force on western Balkans joined and participated in the debate.
In the upcoming months, the European Forum and FEPS will organize various events to promote the book. The PDF-version of the book can be downloaded here.