Page | 3the much overused idea of 'democratic deficits', one would be hard pressed to argue thatCroatia, for example, is in a worse situation than contemporary Hungary. In some ways, anunderstandable focus on re-creating central states in sovereign post-Yugoslav Republics,serves to limit the possibilities for lower level democratic change. If we look only ateconomics, bearing in mind that I would question the use of GDP as an indicator of anything,a recent paper has shown that recently, for South East Europe, the message is that thefurther away from EU membership the better, in terms of growth at least.
The attraction of the EU is in danger of being lost, if new benefits are not quickly added.
It is certainly the case that all the external efforts at 'state-building' and, more recently,'region-building', in South East Europe have resulted in very little change 'on the ground'.They have succeeded in producing a kind of instrumentalisation of politics in which, forexample, the political leadership in Montenegro offers to organise a gay pride parade, toshow how Montenegro is 'not like Serbia'. It is also far too easily forgotten that an alternativeto nationalist politics which did exist in much of the former Yugoslavia has now beenchannelled into an NGO elite that prefers to complain directly to Brussels rather than buildan internal constituency for change. Of course, a greater voice, at all levels, for suchgroupings, and the encouragement of EU wide networking by a wide range of groups, isneeded, but not at the expense of old fashioned local politics.
In my view, the Western Balkans could contribute to a transformation of the growthparadigm, a new model which I hesitate to call 'de-growth'
, but will anyway. Let us notforget that the scenario for most of South East Europe since 2000 was jobless, unsustainable,import-seeking, consumption maximizing growth followed by deep structural crisis which,with all due lead and lag, appears to have severe and structural impact on unemployment,decimation of industrial production and, by implication, further contributing to a view thatthe most desired employee is the state or the local municipal authorities.
Too little of the
recent thinking on ‘a new
growth model for South East Europe’ has discussed
the ecological dimensions
whilst green growth is part of the EU 2020 agenda it has reallynot received the attention it deserves in the EU or in the SEE region. Why not focus more on
‘green jobs’, i.e.
low-carbon, low-energy, low raw material jobs and jobs which protect andrestore eco- systems and bio diversity and/or minimize the production of waste andpollution? Why not seize the opportunity to reward early adopters of green technology? Canthe decimations of deindustrialisation be turned into a comparative advantage in a regionwith perhaps both the most intact, and therefore most vulnerable, eco-system in widerEurope? Why not be leaders in ecological food production, forest preservation, electricityproduction from wind and sunlight and, of course, sustainable tourism? All of this isimportant, in and of itself, but what is needed more than ever are new kinds of sustainableand redistributive eco-social policies which
can achieve ecologically beneficial and socially just impacts promoting new patterns of production, consumption and investment, changingproducer and consumer behaviour while improving well-being, and ensuring a fairerdistribution of power and resources
Bartlett, W. and Prica, I. (2012)
The variable impact of the global economic crisis in South East Europe.
“a degrowth strategy implies a structured process
of socially sustainable and equitable reduction in theamount of materials and energy that a society extracts, processes, and eventually returns to the environmentas waste
”Kallis, G. (2011). ‘In defence of degrowth’,
Vol.70, pp. 873-880
Although cf. Domazet, M., V. Cvijanović and D. Dolenec (2012) ‘What Kind of Grwoth, What Kind of Degrowth:
Gough, I. (2013) 'Eco-social Policy', draft paper.