As countries across the Balkans embarked on democratic and market-oriented reforms following the conflicts of the 1990s, the promise of integration into the European Union fueled hope for sustained and stable democracy in the region. Yet, the transition process has been largely incomplete and the new democracies of the Balkans remain fragile. Rather than building effective systems of democratic governance, critical weaknesses—“governance gaps”—have emerged that allow external actors—particularly from authoritarian states—to reassert their role in the region, exploiting and exacerbating governance gaps to flood the region with capital and influencing developments in the region.
CIPE and its partners in the Balkans are analyzing the ways in which authoritarian states benefit from these gaps, which include loopholes in anti-corruption and competition policies, and non-transparent procurement practices in Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. CIPE and its partners are working with civil society and the private sector to devise innovative ways to advocate for reforms needed to close these gaps, limit the influence of such “corrosive capital,” and boost the resiliency of economies in the Balkans.