The Future of European Integration

Tirana, June 2006

On 24 June 2006, AGENDA Institute and MJAFT Foundation jointly organized the lecture on “The Future of European Integration and the Perspective of the Western Balkans”, in the framework of the EU Lecture Series.

The guest speaker was Mr. Gerald Knaus, President of the European Stability Initiative, a leading think tank in the region which promotes the European Integration of the Western Balkan countries. There were 70 participants in the conference, including members of the Committee on European Integration of the Parliament, students from Law Faculty, representatives of diplomatic corps, representatives from civil society and media.

Mr. Knaus spoke about the perspectives on the EU enlargement process, elaborating on “conditionality”, “consolidation”, “enlargement fatigue”, “absorption capacity” “regatta principle”, “regional cooperation” and more specifically on the European Union policies for the Western Balkans.

“As was revealed by the rejection of the EU Constitution in France and the Netherlands, popular consensus is crucial to a nation’s political progress and when it is not achieved it will eventually stunt “growth” for better or for worse”, underlines Mr. Knaus during his speech. For Albania this lecture served at informing people that EU Integration will be a long path, and the signing of the SAA should be considered as the first step in this process. To stress this point, Mr. Knaus gave the example of Bulgaria and Romania that experienced a breakdown even after the signing of their association agreements with EU. On the other hand, with many problems the EU Member States are facing today the procedures for the Western Balkan countries accession will be harder. Therefore, Mr. Knaus suggested “a stronger cooperation and coordination agenda among the Western Balkan countries in order to make EU Integration process a success story”.

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