CEA is implementing a one-year project supported by the Open Society Foundations with the aim of assessing and streamlining the potential of the Initiative Open Balkan. 


Recognising the lack of interest of the EU in enlargement in the Western Balkans, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama decided to “take destiny in their own hands” and launch a “mini-Schengen” in October 2019. In July 2021, this idea evolved into a regional initiative “Open Balkan[1]”. The initiative is no substitute for membership in the EU, but a path to accelerated membership and utilization of the existing but insufficiently used potentials in these countries, which might facilitate additional economic growth and development and thus, welfare for their citizens.


Developing and cultivating neighbourly relations in the Western Balkan in expectation of economic prosperity will require eliminating border controls and other barriers in order to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services, and capital in the region. Regional disparities analyses (for example, coastal vs. internal, NUTS 2 and NUTS 3 regions, urban vs. rural, capital cities vs. other cities) of the Open Balkan countries might offer insights when determining priorities for more accelerated growth and internal convergence of the Open Balkan region. At the moment, there is a lack of properly elaborated analyses to assess the existing challenges.

[1] By Open Balkan, we will define the territorial space of six countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania.


An independent pool of experts from the six countries diagnosing and investigating the bottlenecks for cooperation and coordination among the Open Balkan countries will add value to the already demonstrated political will for the Open Balkan initiative, leading to its more structured, priority-focused, and systematic development.

Project Outputs and activities:

1) OPEN BALKAN, BERLIN PROCESS AND EU’S ACQUIS: Rapid analysis within the assessing and streamlining potentials of the Open Balkan Initiative

2) ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF THE OPEN BALKAN INITIATIVE: Rapid analysis within the assessing and streamlining potentials of the Open Balkan Initiative