It is often claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer, though some experts have preferred to describe it as a mere accelerator of trends that were already in evidence. Whichever of these interpretations one favours, in the European Union’s case it is probably true to say that the pandemic has absorbed at least some of the time, energy and attention that decision-makers in Brussels and member state capitals would otherwise be dedicating to the improvement of relations with our immediate neighbourhoods, the search for solutions to at least some of their more pressing problems, and (where relevant) the complex process which will eventually lead to membership of the EU for those currently involved in accession negotiations in the Western Balkans. Consequently, and given the importance that Spain, Poland and Romania have traditionally attached to the EU’s neighbourhood policies, this is a particularly apposite moment to remind ourselves (and others) that the pandemic should not be allowed to undermine our efforts in this field.

With this in mind, the foreign ministers of the three countries convened a Webinar, which was hosted by the Elcano Royal Institute (Madrid), to discuss the numerous challenges posed by the EU’s various neighbourhoods, and how they might be addressed. The Webinar also brought together leading experts from the major think tanks of their respective countries, who analysed the EU’s evolving relationship with its Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods, and with the Western Balkans.


First Session:

Second Session:

  • Itxaso Domínguez, Middle East and Maghreb Coordinator, Observatory of Spanish Foreign Policy (OPEX), Fundación Alternativas, Madrid. (@itxasdo)
  • Sławomir Dębski, Director, Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), Warsaw. (@SlawomirDebski)
  • Gheorghe Magheru, Member of the Scientific Council, New Strategy Center, Bucharest. (@NSC_Romania)

You can follow the event on:

  • Send your questions by email to
  • The event will be held in English without simultaneous translation. No registration is required.

Monday 26th April 2021, from 15:00 to 16:15 h. CET (UTC+2)

Video: Webinar “The European Union and its neighbourhoods in a post-pandemic world” (1:07:15)