The EU as a promoter of democracy or ‘stabilitocracy’ in the Western Balkans?

Starting from August 2021, the Think for Europe Network (TEN) commenced its work on the research project “the EU as a promoter of democracy or ‘stabilitocracy’ in the Western Balkans?”. This project is implemented in partnership with the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’.

Through its enlargement policies the EU tries to foster democratisation in the Western Balkan region. Now that further reforms in a number of countries only progress slowly or seem even deadlocked, more and more attention is being paid to the negative side-effects of EU policies. The literature on EU enlargement notes that, in spite of their democratic objectives, EU strategies and policies unintentionally contribute to the formation of so-called stabilitocracies in the region: countries with obvious democratic shortcomings that at the same time claim to provide pro-EU stability. 

The research project focuses on the six countries of the Western Balkans. For each country, it assesses how flaws in the EU’s enlargement policies as identified in the literature play out in practice by offering a reflection on the applicability of the theoretical framework for the specific country, underpinned by an assessment of a number of case studies. 

The project will be carried out throughout 2021 and will culminate in a Clingendael report in English with six contributions from TEN partners, one for each country of the Western Balkan Six. 

This project is financed by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence. 

Period: August 2021 – October 2021
Donator: Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence
Project Coordinator: European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade
Contact persons: Strahinja Subotić, Programme Manager and Senior Researcher (

WeBER 2.0

Six organisations from the Western Balkans, members of the Think for Europe – TEN Network, coordinated by the European Policy Centre (CEP), in partnership with the European Policy Centre – EPC from Brussels, and with financial support from the European Commission, will continue their work with a goal to further empower civil society organisations in the Western Balkans to engage in the design and implementation of public administration reform in line with the requirements in the EU accession process.

Under the new name, Western Balkan Civil Society Empowerment for a Reformed Public Administration, the WeBER 2.0 design relies on the results of WeBER and published PAR Monitor reports. WeBER 2.0 continues the intervention logic developed and proven effective in the first project, namely that the creation of regional and local pressure and demand for PAR compliant with EU requirements/principles is the best (and perhaps only) way to ensure long-term effectiveness of the EU’s conditionality in this area and keep these reforms on track even beyond the point of achievement of EU membership by the WB countries.

The impact that WeBER 2.0 intends to create is an empowered civil society, armed with knowledge, skills and tools to monitor PAR and hold their national and local governments to account for the quality of policies they develop, services they provide and the overall management of the state and local governments and administrations.

Find more about WeBER 2.0 at:

Period: December 2019 – December 2022
Donator: European Commission
Project Coordinator: European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade
Contact person: Jovana Knežević, WeBER 2.0 Project Manager (

Making a Future Together: EU and the Western Balkans from the Youth Perspective

Starting from March 2020, TEN Secretariat, the European Policy Centre (CEP) commenced its work on the two-year “Making a Future Together: EU and the Western Balkans from the Youth Perspective” project. This Project is implemented in partnership with the members of the Think for Europe Network, the Institute for International Affairs in Rome, the Bronsilav Geremek Foundation Centre in Warsaw and the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

This project directly contributes to inclusive and participatory policymaking at the European Union (EU) level by bringing citizens’ input into the formulation and redefinition of EU enlargement policy to the Western Balkans. More specifically, it aims to engage youth from the Western Balkans in the Future of Europe Debate.

The project will consist of 9 events gathering youth activists, students and academia from the Western Balkans and EU member states. Through moderated discussion at these events, participants will provide their ideas and proposals for the development of the EU in the future. Youth will also have an opportunity to contribute their thoughts through discussions opened on an online platform. All contributions given will be in the form of policy outputs with specific recommendations. At the end of the Project, all of the policy outputs developed will serve as a contribution from the youth of the Western Balkans to the ongoing debate on the future of Europe.

This project is financed by the European Agency for Cultural, Educational and Audio-Visual Policies through its Europe for Citizens programme.

Period: March 2020 – March 2022
Donator: European Agency for Cultural, Educational and Audio-Visual Policies
Project Coordinator: European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade
Contact persons: Strahinja Subotić, Programme Manager and Senior Researcher (, Andrija Mladenović, Project Coordinator (

Europeanisation Beyond Process

In January 2019, Think for Europe Network started implementing two-year long project “Europeanisation Beyond Process” in the framework of the Network, supported by the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE). The Project Coordinator will be the European Policy Centre – CEP Belgrade.

Under this project, TEN will strengthen cooperation with renowned think tanks from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Finland, in order to improve the quality of communication on the EU enlargement in the broader framework of the forthcoming re-definition of the EU and its future. Our approach in this project is to advocate not for the plain EU accession but rather for the WB as an entirety that has been going through numerous improvements in the democratic governance and rule of law structures, improvement of the economic governance processes as well as ambitious reform agendas for public administration.

Apart from reaching out to the influential European capitals and engaging with the EU policy scene, TEN will, thanks to the support of this grant, conduct activities to improve our research, communication and advocacy skills. By further increasing our internal capacities, TEN ultimate goal is to make Western Balkan countries substantially involved in the debates and policy solutions pertinent to the future of Europe.

Period: January 2019 – January 2020
Donator: Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE)
Project Coordinator: European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade
Contact person: Sena Marić, CEP Programme Manager and Senior Resarcher (

FINISHED: Raising capacities and advocacy potential of CSOs of Visegrad Group and Western Balkans

Why? Policymaking in the Western Balkans (WB) is characterised by weak and unsystematic involvement of the civil society organisations (CSOs). On the other side, Visegrad Group (V4) countries have more advanced policymaking systems which ensure CSOs involvement, while CSOs themselves have greater capacities and experience in that respect. However, sustainable and effective CSO participation in the policymaking based on evidence is a long­term challenge and objective for both regions.

This project will address the deficiencies of policymaking systems by enhancing CSOs capacities from the WB to take more active part in the policymaking and advocate for a more enabling legal environment for the CSOs through learning from the experiences of the V4 countries.

How? Through the exchange of knowledge and experience within the V4 region and together with the WB partners through a consortium of 10 partners, capacities and advocacy potential of the organisations of both regions will be raised. The knowledge gained will be shared with 180 CSO representatives in the WB countries. The involvement of the civil servants in the project from relevant policymaking institutions in WB6 will increase their ownership and accountability.

Who? This project has been implemented by:

TEN network:

European Policy Centre, Serbia
Group for Legal and Political Studies, Kosovo
Foreign Policy Initiative BH (FPI BH), Bosnia and Herzegovina
Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Albania
European Policy Institute (EPI) ­Skopje, Macedonia
Institute Alternative, Montenegro

Partners from Visegrad countries:

EUROPEUM – Institute for European Policy, Czech Republic
Central European University, Hungary
Slovak Governance Institute, Slovakia
Fundacja IDEA Rozwoju, Poland

When? March 2017 – March 2018

Target audience: Our target audience are civil society organisations, civil servants, national governments and European Commission.

This project is realised with the kind support of the International Visegrad Fund


Civil Society and Policy Making in the Visegrad Group Countries: Lessons for the Western Balkans

It is our immense pleasure to share with you a collection of articles produced within the Visegrad project. This collection provides insights into challenges of civil society participation in policymaking in three countries of the Visegrad Group (Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia), in the intention to share valuable lessons for the Western Balkan countries. Find more about the publication here.

What’s the role and importance of think tank organisations today?

Final conference of the International Visegrad Fund Project “Raising capacities and advocacy potential towards more substantive involvement of civil society organisations of Visegrad group and Western Balkan countries” was held today in Belgrade. Read more about this event here.

Event announcement: Think tanks in policymaking – Challenges and impact in Southeast Europe

Final conference of the Project  “Raising capacities and advocacy potential: Towards more substantive involvement of CSO of Visegrad group and WB countries” will be held on January 30, 2018 in Belgrade, at EU Info Centre Premisses. Read more about this event here.

Western Balkan Think Tankers and Civil Servants on a Study Tour to Slovakia and Czech Republic 

On June 26-30, representatives of each of the TEN member organisations, together with civil servants from each of the Western Balkan countries, participated in a study tour to Bratislava (Slovak Republic) and Prague (Czech Republic). Read more about this study tour here.

Experiences of Polish and Hungarian CSOs in the Policymaking Process Shared in Budva, MNE

A two-day regional training “CSO Participation in the Policymaking: Experiences from Poland and Hungary” was held in Budva, Montenegro, on 12-13 May 2017. Read more about this training here.



FINISHED: Benchmarking for EU Reform – How Effective? BENCHER

The goal of this project was to explore the effectiveness of the EU benchmarking mechanism for the Western Balkans in order to improve the benchmarking mechanism as an impetus for EU related reforms in the Western Balkan countries.

At two-day Conference „EU and Western Balkans: towards greater credibility and engagement on both sides” held in Belgrade on 13-14 March 2018, results of the BENCHER project were presented. Read more about this event here.

Publications made within this project can be found here and here.

A one-page description of the Project BENCHER is also provided in Albanian, Bosnian, Macedonian and Serbian.

This project was financed by European fund for the Balkans.

FINISHED: Centre of Excellence on Policymaking Systems in the Western Balkans (CEPS WeB)

The project aimed to create the Centre of Excellence on Policymaking Systems in the Western Balkans (CEPS WeB), within the institutional framework provided by the Think for Europe Network (TEN). It would be oriented towards creating demand and raising awareness of the necessity for policy research and analysis at the regional level, through joint policy research and advocacy in the region. CEPS WeB would, hence, pinpoint regional aspects of policymaking systems, procedures, approaches, and capacities that are common across the region and go beyond national agendas.

The project lasted six months and comprised a series of activities aimed at conceptualising CEPS WeB. These activities proceed mainly through interactive workshops between the TEN member organisations and their associates in the process of joining. A public event was organised in the last month of the project, to present the final deliverable of collaborative effort during and between the workshops – CEPS WeB position paper. In addition, research of comparative good practices of establishing centres of excellence focusing on policymaking systems and processes in Europe and worldwide was performed.

This project was implemented by the Think for Europe Network (TEN) and financed under the framework of the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). The RRPP is coordinated and operated by the Interfaculty Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (IICEE) at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). The programme is fully funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.


Since December 2015 until December 2018, European Policy Centre implemeted three-year project “Western Balkans Enabling Project for Civil Society Monitoring of Public Administration Reform (WeBER)“.

The project was supported by European Commission within “The Civil Society Facility and Media Programme 2014-2015 – Support to Regional Thematic Networks of CSOs”, and in partnership with Think for Europe Network and European Policy Centre (EPC, Brussles)

The project aimed to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations and the media in the Western Balkans to participate in the creation and implementation of public administration reform. Civil society organisations have been recognized as important actors in creating public policy at the national and regional levels, which is why this project sought to strengthen its supervisory and consulting capabilities. Quality and analytical reporting by the media on the topic of public administration reform based on the arguments and evidence had an equally important role in these processes. Therefore, the project as another target group picked media.

Find more about projects’ result here:

Period: December 2015 – December 2018
Donator: European Commission
Project Coordinator: European Policy Centre – CEP, Belgrade
Contact person: Milena Lazarević, WeBER Project Manager (

FINISHED: Network 23

The project lasted for 15 months and its implementation in Macedonia started in May 2014. The leading partner was European Policy Institute (in cooperation with the Helsinki Committee Macedonia and the Center for Change Management), while European Policy Centre and Institute Alternativa from Podgorica were associates and provided exchange of regional best practices.

The main objectives of the project were: creating structured coordination between CSOs in Macedonia regarding the implementation of the areas covered by Chapter 23 of the Acquis – Judiciary and Fundamental rights; increasing the capacity of CSO to act as watch-dog organisations in the process of monitoring and evaluation of Chapter 23 on national and local level, through a concrete transfer of know-how; enabling a mechanism for CSOs to influence the policy making process through coordinated input on the network; and finally by raising awareness on the implications of Chapter 23 on the overall progress of the EU accession.

Within Network 23, an Analysis on Chapter 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights was prepared, as well as a Brochure “Why Chapter 23 is the key to EU accession?”

The project was funded by the European Union through the IPA Civil Society Facility Programme 2013. The project was also financially supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

FINISHED: Strengthening Consumer Protection Organisations for Better Municipal Services in SEE

Period: February 2015 – March 2016
Donator: German organisation for international cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit) – GIZ

The main objective of the project “Strengthening Consumer Protection Organisations for better Municipal Services in SEE” was to strengthen the capacities of consumer organisations in advocating the rights of consumers of municipal services in South-East Europe. The project was financed by the German organisation for international cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit) – GIZ, through Open Regional Fund for modernisation of municipal services, while Think for Europe Network was in charge of project implementation. National consumer protection organisations from all three countries (National consumer protection organisation of Serbia, Consumer protection centre of Montenegro and Consumer protection organisation of Macedonia) were also be involved in project implementation while consumer protection organisations from other countries of the region gradually involved themselves in project activities.

Project was implemented through set a of work packages which were concentrated around the following activities: development of the regional study and adoption of action plans for advocacy by the consumer organisations (work package 1), arrangement of multi-stakeholder dialogue and preparation of consumers’ awareness raising strategies (work package 2) and establishment of the regional consumer organisations network – CONWeB with clear goal of affiliating itself with BEUC – European Consumer Organisation (work package 3).

The project lasted for 13 months and realisation started in February 2015.