Civil society mobilisation in the Western Balkans and the Eastern Neighbourhood

Civil society has emerged as one of the potential drivers of domestic change in a context where „enlargement fatigue“ is rife and the EU has few concrete benefits to offer its neighbouring countries in exchange for their reform efforts. By offering insights from the ground and stimulating change „bottom-up“, it is thought that organised civil society can complement top-down external incentives in fostering both policy adjustments and democratisation more broadly. At the same time, previous findings from the enlargement process with Central and Eastern Europe suggest a limited empowerment of civil society actors, who remain constrained by overbearing government structures and a lack of internal capacities to effectively exploit new opportunities.

This panel takes the debate on civil society empowerment to a new empirical context, exploring their potential for change in the current enlargement region and in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. It focuses in particular on sectoral and geographical differences regarding the strategies employed by domestic civil society actors and their eventual outcomes at the national level. Is it easier for civil society actors to mobilize in technical areas, such as for instance the environment, than in more political ones? Can organisations from the enlargement region draw on EU leverage more effectively than those in the neighbourhood countries? The panel invites contributions addressing, but not limited to:

  • Case studies of civil society mobilisation in a particular policy area;
  • Comparative studies of mobilisation strategies and their effectiveness;
  • Studies of the EU’s role in triggering civil society empowerment in the enlargement region or the Eastern Neighbourhood.

Papers comparing mobilisation across different policy sectors or different countries/regions are particularly welcome.

Paper proposals should be sent to Dr Aron Buzogany (buzogany(at)zedat.fu-berlin.de) and Natasha Wunsch (natasha.wunsch.11(at)ucl.ac.uk) by Friday, 15 January 2016. The proposals should include the full name(s) of author(s), university/organisation, email address, research discipline, title of the paper, keywords and an abstract of up to 300 words.

The UACES (The academic association for Contemporary European Studies) 46th Annual Conference will be held in London, 5-7 September 2016.