Kristof Bender

EU enlargement: A new approach, essay in "Eurozine", 4 October 2023.


Most of my writing is for the European Stability Initiative (ESI), a think thank developing policy ideas to strengthen democratic institutions and uphold human rights standards in Europe. ESI works a lot on European asylum policy, the rule of law, and the EU accession process as a tool to strengthen institutions and stabilise Europe's periphery. ESI's reports and background papers are collective efforts and are published without bylines. You can access them at

From time to time I publish the occasional text in my name, from essays like Timisoara 2.0. A story of industrial transformation or portraits like Ending the age of heroes. Ivo Sanader and the battle for a European Croatia to op-eds like Im Schatten des Krieges. Here is a selection:

Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung - bpb (Bonn), EU-Osterweiterung, die Zweite? Chancen und Risiken einer neuen EU-Osterweiterung (EU eastern enlargement, the second? Opportunities and risks of a new EU eastward expansion), essay, 21 February 2024

Eurozine (Vienna), EU enlargement: A new approach, essay, 4 October 2023

Независен Весник (Skopje), ЕУ нема друг избор освен да се прошири. Секоја поранешна комунистичка земја која беше примена во ЕУ е жив споменик на нејзината трансформативна моќ (The EU has no choice but to expand. Every former communist country that has been admitted to the EU is a living monument to its transformative power), essay, 19 September 2023

IWM Europe's Futures (Vienna), EU Enlargement and Europe’s Future. How to Revive One of the EU’s Most Successful Policies, essay, 14 September 2023

Der Falter (Vienna), Im Schatten des Krieges (In the shadow of the war), op-ed, 30 May 2023

Tipping Point (Vienna), Der Westbalkan, die Ukraine und die EU (The Western Balkans, Ukraine and the EU), essay, 16 March 2023

Tipping Point (Vienna), The Western Balkans, Ukraine and the EU, essay, 16 March 2023

IWM Post (Vienna), Der Westbalkan, die Ukraine und die EU: Zwei Vorschläge (The Western Balkans, Ukraine and the EU: two proposals), essay, 1 December 2022

Der Falter (Vienna), Der Frust ist groß (The frustration is big), op-ed, 28 June 2022

Falter (Vienna), 70 Jahre Asylrecht: Was jetzt zu tun ist (70 years of asylum law: what to do now), op-ed, 4 August 2021

Balkan Insight (Belgrade), EU Has Turned Enlargement into a Hamster Wheel, op-ed, with Adnan Cerimagic and Gerald Knaus, 21 January 2020 (Tirana), BE-ja e ka shndërruar zgjerimin në një proces që s’përfundon kurrë (The EU has turned enlargement into a process that never ends), op-ed, with Adnan Cerimagic and Gerald Knaus, 21 January 2020

Der Standard (Vienna), Der Europarat hat vor Russland kapituliert (The Council of Europe capitulated to Russia), op-ed, 2 July 2019

Erste Stiftung - Standpunkte (Vienna), Schöne Träume. Die EU kann Reformkräfte am Balkan stärken, indem sie ihr Wort hält (Beautiful dreams. The EU can strengthen Balkan reformers by just keeping its word), op-ed, 17 June 2019

Open Democracy (London), The EU can strengthen Balkan reformers just by keeping its word, op-ed, 15 June 2019

Eastern Focus (Bucharest), Time to learn from what has worked, essay, 6 April 2019

Falter (Vienna), Verhandlungen abbrechen? Nein! Warum ein Ende der EU-Beitritt sverhandlungen mit der Türkei weder der EU, noch türkischen Demokraten nützt (Break off negotiations? No! Why an end to the EU accession negotiations with Turkey will benefit neither the EU nor Turkish democrats), op-ed, 24 May 2017

Der Standard (Vienna), Asyl: Verführerisches Braunschweig. Wenn man in Montenegro lebt und keine Zukunftsaussichten hat, ist Deutschland unwiderstehlich (Asylum: Tempting Braunschweig. If one lives in Montenegro without prospects for the future, Germany is irresistible), essay, with Bilsana Bibic, 7 February 2016

Café Europe (Berlin), Transition and happiness. A Bulgarian paradox?, essay, with Gerald Knaus, 1 December 2014

Café Europe (Berlin), Timisoara 2.0 - A story of industrial transformation, essay, 23 May 2014

Mats Berdal and Dominik Zaum (eds.), Political Economy of Statebuilding. Power after peace (London), How the EU and the US Stopped a War and Nobody Noticed: The Containment of the Macedonian Conflict and EU Soft Power, essay/book chapter, 30 June 2013

Novi List (Rijeka), Od društva uništenog ratom do europske demokracije (From a society destroyed by war to European democracy), op-ed, 29 June 2013

Falter (Vienna), Dobrodošla, Kroatien! Eine Erfolgsstory (Dobrodošla, Croatia! A success story), op-ed, 26 June 2013

Café Europe (Berlin), Ending the age of heroes. Ivo Sanader and the battle for a European Croatia, essay, 4 April 2013

IEMed Mediterranean Yearbook 2012 (Barcelona), EU Enlargement in South Eastern Europe: Two Recent Success Stories and Their Implications, essay, 30 June 2012

Café Europe (Berlin), The EU as a chance for Croatia’s Serbs. Milorad Pupovac and political change, essay, with Snjezana Vukic, 10 May 2012

Falter (Vienna), Einst geächtet, heute geachtet? (Once shunned, now respected?), essay, 11 April 2012

Café Europe (Berlin), From renegade to president. Stipe Mesic and Croatia after Tudjman, essay, with Snjezana Vukic, 1 February 2012

Café Europe (Berlin), Building a working consensus. Vesna Pusic and Croatia on the way to the EU, essay, 20 January 2012

Café Europe (Berlin), Small Montenegro’s big project. Gordana Djurovic and the EU questionnaire, essay, 30 July 2010

Café Europe (Berlin), The EU as a cohesive glue. Radmila Sekerinska and Macedonia’s membership application, essay, 28 July 2010

Café Europe (Berlin), Reviving multi-cultural values. Borjan Jovanovski’s “open window towards Europe”, essay, 27 July 2010

Hospodářské noviny (Prague), Gerald Knaus, Kristof Bender: Nebojme se rozšíření Evropské unie (Gerald Knaus, Kristof Bender: We are not afraid of the enlargement of the European Union), op-ed, with Gerald Knaus, 20 July 2010

Nepszabadsag (Budapest), Bővítési válság az unióban (Enlargement crisis in the Union), op-ed, with Gerald Knaus, 19 July 2010

SME (Bratislava), V únii prevládla ustráchanost' (Fearfulness prevails in the EU), op-ed, with Gerald Knaus, 18 July 2010

Balkan Insight (Belgrade), High Noon in Slovenia - A Referendum and the Future of Balkan Enlargement, op-ed, with Gerald Knaus, 4 June 2010

Café Europe (Berlin), Negotiations as a schedule for reforms. Silvana Lyubenova and the free movement of goods, essay, 19 January 2010

Café Europe (Berlin), Marathon man. Mikulas Dzurinda and Slovakia’s race to catch up, essay, with Milan Nic, 4 January 2010

Turkey Policy Quarterly, now Transatlantic Policy Quarterly (Istanbul), Bulgaria's quest to meet the environmental acquit: a case study of the transformative power of the EU, essay, 5 September 2009

Café Europe (Berlin), Slovakia’s crucial moment. Martin Simecka and his view of 1998, essay, with Milan Nic, 24 August 2009

Café Europe (Berlin), Breaching Bulgaria’s Schengen Wall. Nadezhda Mihaylova and visa-free travel, essay, 19 February 2009

Café Europe (Berlin), “EU membership within ten years”. Ivan Kostov and Bulgaria’s turning point, essay, 19 February 2009

Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (London), The Worst in Class: How the International Protectorate. Hurts the European Future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, essay with Gerald Knaus, Volume 1, special supplement, 1 December 2007

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Ivan Krastev (ed.), Nationalism after communism : lessons learned (Budapest, New York), The Political Economy of Interethnic Relations. Ahmeti's Village or the Macedonian Case , essay/book chapter with Marcus Cox and Gerald Knaus, 30 June 2004