EU Enlargement: Launch of a call for civil society representatives from EU candidate countries to join the work of the EESC

The European Economic and Social Committee has today launched a call for expression of interest to become "enlargement candidate members (ECM)" and contribute to the advisory work of the Committee in 2024. The civil society organisations from EU candidate countries, who fulfil the eligibility criteria, can submit their applications here until 25 January.

EESC President Oliver Röpke said: "Geopolitics has reemerged as an existential topic on the political agenda. The EU must now be up to the task ahead: it is high time for its geopolitical awakening. An important step has been taken with EU leaders endorsing the opening of accession negotiations with Moldova and Ukraine, and granting candidate status to Georgia. To shape the future, we must learn from past experiences and progressively integrate EU candidates. Today, the EESC proudly launches the call for the "Enlargement Candidate Members", the bright and dedicated civil society representatives from all EU candidate countries who will join our ranks in 2024. I would like to thank President von der Leyen and Commissioner Várhelyi for their unwavering support to this project."

EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said: Chambers of commerce, associations of SMEs, trade unions, consumers, farmers, academia, youth organizations, and other civil society members play an essential role in supporting economic and social development and fostering democracy.

With this new initiative to gradually involve the civil society of our enlargement partners in the EESC's daily work before their accession, we promote civil society's role in the enlargement process.

The enlargement process is a merit-based process, and we support all initiatives that help our partner countries succeed with their reform efforts to achieve substantial socio-economic developments at a crucial moment for the benefit of their citizens.

In a historic move in December 2023, the EU leaders opened accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova while granting a candidate status to Georgia. The decision followed the remarks by the European Commission's President Ursula von der Leyen on a new enlargement momentum. Against this backdrop, the EESC took a landmark decision already in September 2023 to involve representatives from the civil society of EU candidate countries in its advisory work. A political priority of the EESC President Oliver Röpke, the "Enlargement Candidate Members (ECMs)" will work alongside EESC Members, contributing to the drafting of the EESC opinions and participate in plenary sessions. This groundbreaking initiative positions the EESC as the first EU body to progressively integrate representatives from enlargement countries into its operations.

How to apply and selection procedure

Interested civil society organisations from EU candidate countries can apply and propose their representatives through the dedicated survey until 25 January. The selection process will take into account their expertise and representativeness, their track-record in participating in national or international networks as well as the need to ensure respect of gender balance and youth organisations representativity.

For more details on the application criteria and the full selection procedure you will find more information on this website.

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