Serbia and the EU: Assessing the Economic Prospects
As elsewhere in the Western Balkans, Serbia made significant strides in the period 203-8 toward becoming the "functioning market economy" specified by the Copenhagen Criteria as a major credential for membership in the European Union. Since then, on the one hand, the Tadic government has accepted an EU invitation to apply for membership. This invitation is consistent with Brussels' long expressed interest in bringing the serbian econmy with its large population and central location into the organization.
Since 2008, on the other hand, the prospects for a successful Serbian entry by its government's target date of 2014 have been called into question, and not only by the well know political problems of Kosovo's independence and the failure to apprehend Vlatko Mladic for the ICTY. The international financial crisis has also affected the Serbian economy, slowing growth, tightening credit, sharply reducing Foreign Direct Investment, and increasing unemployment.
John Lampe draws on his latest visit to Belgrade in January as well as his book manuscript with co-author Lenard Cohen just submitted to the Wilson Center Press, Embracing Democracy in the Western Balkans: From Post Conflict struggles toward European Integration, to address the economic challenges. Setting aside the diplomatic challenges of Kosovo and Mladic, Professor Lampe's presentation will weigh the staying power of predominantly foreign banks, the potential for a state role in Direct Foreign Investment, the continuing problems of privatization and reforming public administration and education. Attention should also be paid to a stable fiscal system, a responsible central bank and a lower foreign debt than for instance currently faced by Greece. Domestic political opposition to further economic reform may however pose the same obstacles as seen in Greece. But if such opposition can be overcome and the EU membership's own economic recovery can go ahead, then a realistic case can be made for a competitive Serbian economy being able to enter the European Union, if not in 2014 then only a few years later.
This event will take place in the 6th floor boardroom.