Date of Conference: June 10-11 2020
Location: Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy
Department of Economic History
The Department of Economic History, at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, in Milan Italy, is calling for papers for the following conference on “The Balkan and the Mediterranean regional groups in the European Integration Process (1990-2020).”
With the collapse of the Soviet system, the countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans were targets for the next stage of the European Union’s expansion. However, given the state of their economic and political systems in 1990, it was known that these former communist states would require a long period of adjustment in order to be ready to join the more developed economies of Western Europe. Economic growth and liberalization, in addition to political and social development, were seen as going hand in hand in order to prepare these countries for integration into the European Union.
While the ‘Big Bang” enlargement of 2005, formalized the entry to the EU of many of the former communist states, Albania, and most of the former Yugoslav republics (with the exception of Croatia and Slovenia) have remained on the outside, looking in. While these states have received significant aid to prepare them for eventual integration, recent events, including but not limited to the economic crises of the 2010s, Brexit, the rise of populism, and the migration crisis, have at least temporarily, halted the expansion process for them. Also at the forefront of dealing with the crises, have been the Mediterranean EU member states. Active, but not widely acknowledged actors responding to these events have been regional (sub) groupings. They have played a significant, but relatively neglected role in the processes of European economic and political integration, especially after the fall of the Soviet System.
The BENELUX and the Nordic Council are examples of regional cooperation, and more recently, both the Baltic states and the Visegrád group represent (re-) emergence of forms of regional cooperation in connection with their accession to and later membership of the European Union. Most recently, the Mediterranean 7, and a proposed Balkan “Schengen” area have arisen, proposing collective action at the regional level, in response to the last decade of crises and the current political climate in Europe. Though often cited, these experiences of (sub-) regional cooperation in the Balkans and Mediterranean, within the wider European project since the end of the Cold War, have been the object of relatively little systematic or comparative study.
The aim of the present conference is to bring together specialists on the regional groupings in the Balkans and the Mediterranean specifically, in order to provide a clearer understanding of both their historical significance, and their possible future role, considering an uncertain European political landscape, and the halting of some EU membership bids. Papers are welcome that deal with such topics as: the manner in which the Balkan and Mediterranean groups have allowed for the development of specific forms of (deeper/different) economic and political cooperation amongst their member countries; the use of such groups as a means to coordinate policy (both economic and social) with a view to enhancing the collective influence of their members; the role of these regional groups in response to crises within and outside the EU, the place assumed by such groupings within overall national foreign policies; and the development of structures of economic, social and political cooperation within such regional groupings.
Main questions of interest are, but not limited to:
• In light of French President Macron’s position that further expansion should be halted, at least for the time being, assessing the impact of Regional groups in the Balkans and Mediterranean on deeper levels of European Integration and future European Union Expansion.
• How much the evolution of the economic systems, after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, has influenced the action and the strategies of the Mediterranean and Balkan groups
• How well political, economic and social relations within this sub-groups have interacted with the market development and with the phenomena of globalization
• What does the phenomenon of sub-groupings mean in the context of European Integration?
• Does it represent an alternative, or a supplement to formal integration between European States?
• Are they a reflection of tensions, of the real or perceived ‘distance’ of Brussels, of long-standing / historical ties between nations, or initiators of a new kind on supra-nationalism in Europe?
• Of particular interest, will be the Mediterranean 7 regional group, and the Balkan countries proposing a ‘Balkan Schengen Region” of passport free travel.
Call for papers:
Interested colleagues are invited to send their proposals to the conference organisers at the e-mail addresses below by February 23rd 2020. Proposals should include an abstract of approximately 250 words together with the name(s), institutional affiliation(s) and contact details of the author or authors. Decisions will be communicated to applicants by March 16th 2020.
**Limited funding is available for selected presenters.
Organizing Committee: Andrea Maria Locatelli, Spero Paravantis
Andrea Locatelli, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spero Paravantes, email: email@example.com