Research project  Ever Larger Union with the Clans?

EU Enlargement in South-East Europe and Beyond—The Vital if Neglected Role of Ethnic and Kinship Bonds

By Caspar ten Dam

The primary aim of this research project is to identify the main ethnogeopolitical factors—i.e. cultural, social, religious, ethnic and (geo-)political characteristics, processes and developments—that affect the prospects of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and any other states in South-Eastern Europe or beyond to become actual and functioning member states of the European Union (EU). These factors particularly concern ethnic, (sub-)clannish and other kinship identities and bonds in these prospective EU member states.

The European Union already has enlarged significantly after the end of the Cold War, with the biggest-ever enlargement with ten new member states including Slovenia in 2004, followed by Bulgarian and Romania in 2007 and Croatia in 2013. Yet since then the enlargement process with any new membership candidates has stalled, mainly due to enlargement fatigue and reluctance within the EU and among some member states—despite optimistic assessments and statements by multiple EU agencies.

Therefore in subsequent years the prospects of further EU enlargement to the Western Balkans mainly concerning states arisen from the Former Yugoslavia appeared to be slim.

Be that as it may, if kinship bonds and other ethnogeopolitical factors are ignored or misunderstood, any further EU enlargement with these Eastern European states will be even more challenging and troublesome or even more unlikely. Moreover, after any EU enlargement such ignorance and misunderstanding of these factors—including those in current member states that have led to persistent problems and challenges (think of criminalised kinship bonds by mafias in e.g. Southern Italy)—may endanger the unity, fabric and strength of the EU itself in the more distant future. Thus we come up with the following research questions:

– How do the cultures i.e. norms, beliefs and practices including geopolitical cross-border alliances of ethnicities, clans, extended families and other kin groups in South-Eastern Europe affect the prospects of further EU enlargement by states from that region?

– To what extent are policymakers in Brussels and current EU member states aware and knowledgeable about the ‘tribal’, ‘pre-modern’, ‘patriarchal’ a/o ‘patrimonial’ cultures and alliances of potential a/o actual EU candidate states in South-Eastern Europe?

Conflict analyst Caspar ten Dam will be the main researcher and coordinator of this project through his research company CTDam Consultancy—with facilities and publication avenues from Association for the Study of EthnoGeoPolitics (EGP; e.g. through its peer-reviewed journal Forum of EthnoGeoPolitics. Still we require crowdfunding and other financial support elsewhere to bring the project to full fruition.

We presently estimate that we will need around € 15,000 to kick-start the project and gather and present the first substantial findings within a year’s time. Yet we need around € 34,000 through crowdfunding to conduct the initial phase of the project. See further the downloadable pdf-document for more details on the project including budget-set-up: . ResearchprojectEGPfactorsEUcandidatestates