Webinar: Looking back, looking forward: Regional cooperation in the Western Balkans

14  October 2020    4:30 pm CEST

Study presentation and expert discussion

In cooperation with:


online event - see registration link below


Registration link: https://my.demio.com/ref/bGlsoFAUXOeuzAuj

The European Commission has just released its Enlargement Package for the Western Balkans together with a new Investment Plan for the region. According to Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, it is a priority number one of the current Commission to “bring the region much closer, much faster to the European Union”. Regional economic cooperation and the establishment of a regional common market is praised as potential "game changer" for the Western Balkans.

But is the EU following the right strategy? Is regional cooperation a game changer?

A new major report by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and wiiw has taken up these questions. The study ‘Pushing on a string? An evaluation of regional economic cooperation in the Western Balkans’ examined the economic effects of the EU's strategy of regional economic cooperation and the reasons for its failure. It argues that the Western Balkan countries would benefit much more from a deeper form of integration into the EU internal market than from all efforts to further advance their intra-regional trade - not least because the basic prerequisites for a functioning regional economic cooperation are still not in place and because the potential upside from deeper economic integration among six relatively poor countries is quite low.


Welcome by Hannes Swoboda, President of wiiw & Stefani Weiss, Senior Expert, Bertelsmann Stiftung

Study presentation by Richard Grieveson, Deputy Director, wiiw

Comments by Florian Bieber, Professor of Southeast European History and Politics and Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University (CSEES)

Moderation of Q&A session by Mario Holzner, Executive Director, wiiw

Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions. Please note, that the event will be recorded and published on youtube afterwards. Should you have problems accessing the registration site, copy the link directly to the address line of your Browser and do not use Internet Explorer.


Florian Bieber is Professor of Southeast European History and Politics and Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies (CSEES) at the University of Graz, Austria. He is also Member of The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) and Visiting Professor at the Nationalism Studies Program at Central European University. Professor Bieber studied history and political science at Trinity College (USA) and has taught at the University of Kent, Cornell University, University of Bologna and the University of Sarajevo.

Richard Grieveson is wiiw Deputy Director, Country Expert for the Western Balkans and Turkey and Coordinator of the wiiw country analysis and forecasting team. He is the lead author of the study "Pushing on a string? An evaluation of regional economic cooperation in the Western Balkans" in which he analysed the EU strategy towards the Western Balkans from an economic perspective over a period of two decades.

Mario Holzner is wiiw Executive Director. He is also coordinating economic policy development and communication with a focus on European economic policy. He has recently worked on issues of infrastructure investment in greater Europe, proposing a European Silk Road.

Hannes Swoboda is President of wiiw, Vienna. He is inter alia also president of the Sir Peter Ustinov Institute, as well as the International Institute for Peace, both in Vienna. He served as a Member of the European Parliament from 1996 until 2014. From 2012 to 2014, he was also the President of the group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

Stefani Weiss is Senior Expert for EU Governance, Foreign and Security Policy in the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s ‘Future of Europe’ programme. She is based in Brussels. Her most recent research dealt with the introduction of whole-of-government approaches in external crisis and conflict management of the EU and its member states (https://www.wga-project.eu/2020/) as a means to provide for better policy outcomes that could strengthen the EU as an actor on the global foreign policy stage. In the field of governance research, she has published exploratory studies on the calculation of the European added value and how the EU could better deliver  through a more optimal division of competences between itself and the member states.