The research project entitled “Maximizing the integration capacity of the European Union: Lessons and prospects for enlargement and beyond” (MAXCAP) aimed to evaluate the European Union (EU)’s enlargement to the East. The consortium of nine high profile European Universities and think tanks was led by the idea that evaluating the EU’s approach and mode of integration in the Eastern enlargement would help to assess the current enlargement process encompassing candidates and aspirant countries from the Western Balkans as well as Turkey. This broad evaluation was intended to provide grounds for policy proposals how the EU could improve its integration capacity for the future. By presenting research findings together with interventions and discussions from the international workshop in Sofia, we hope to continue the productive dialogue between academia and policy makers which has been the core of the MAXCAP project and to contribute to better understanding of what the Union can achieve in the region.
The perspectives for future EU enlargements must be sensitive to the differences and distinctions between societies in Eastern and Southeastern Europe – they are not necessarily and only negative, as the debate in Sofia has shown. This calls for novel research instruments that can register the significant differences between national cases, including the variety of changing public attitudes to EU enlargement. The texts presented in this volume are primarily oriented to solving such methodological tasks.