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The EESC is actively engaged in the enlargement process of the EU and has developed a dual approach - regional and bilateral - for its relations with civil society organisations (CSOs) in the enlargement countries.
As far as the regional approach is concerned, the Western Balkans Follow-up Committee – a permanent internal body of the EESC – is the main instrument for coordinating the EESC's activities in this region. The Western Balkans Civil Society Forum, organised every two years, is part of the work of the Follow-up Committee.
The EESC also works bilaterally with countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey. On the basis of association agreements between these countries and the EU, in order to involve CSOs in the pre-accession and accession processes, the EESC has created three joint bodies with civil society representatives – with Turkey, Montenegro and Serbia. Each body is composed of an equal number of members from the EESC and the partner country and meets twice a year.
The EESC keeps up regular contacts and organises joint activities with the CSOs of enlargement countries with whom no joint body of civil society representatives has yet been established.
The work of the joint bodies is complemented by the preparation of EESC opinions on the pre-accession and accession processes of individual countries, as well as on topics of regional interest.
The opinion should take stock of the current situation of civil society in Serbia (legal environment, relations with the authorities, situation of social and civil dialogues) and propose recommendations for possible EU action in this field. The opinion will provide an opportunity to get the views of Serbian civil society organisations in the course of a study visit to Serbia.
The EESC welcomes the special attention devoted to drawing up a European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), in order to support cohesion and competitiveness in the light of challenges that cannot be satisfactorily resolved by single regions or countries through the usual means. The EESC believes that EUSAIR must adopt a comprehensive programme with an action-oriented list of projects and schemes, and strongly recommends that better use be made of the private sector's potential to attract investment (both local and international) and to create business opportunities. Simultaneously, the strategy should include a stronger social dimension, in order to better support inclusive growth in the Adriatic and Ionian region.
This own-initiative opinion will draw upon the first-hand experiences of the non-state actors (civil society, business and trade unions) engaged in the accession negotiations between Croatia and the EU over the period 2005-11, as well as experiences of EESC members who have been engaged in the work of Joint Consultative Committees (JCCs) with accession countries over the past seven years (Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Montenegro) as well as the Western Balkans Follow-up Committee.
The importance of Social Dialogue, the role of employers' organisations, the economic situation in the Balkan countries, progress in the accession process and current political challenges: these were main topics of the discussions at the Balkan Employers' Round Table that took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 22 March 2017. The event brought together representatives of employers' organisations from former Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia).
The EESC will organise its Fifth Western Balkans Civil Society Forum in Belgrade on 2-3 June 2015. The main topics on the agenda are the perspectives for the EU-Western Balkans relations, transparency in the enlargement process, youth and employment, as well as the rights of minorities. It will bring together 150 participants, including representatives of Western Balkan civil society organisations, governments, the EESC and other EU institutions. A final declaration will be issued at the end of the event.
1st meeting of the EU-Serbia Joint Consultative CommitteeFor the 1st time, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Serbia held the Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC). The JCC is a civil society platform established between the EESC and Serbian civil society. It complements with a civil society point of view the EU institutional framework related to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Serbia. This joint institution will allow civil society organisations on both sides to monitor the country's accession negotiations. It is also a platform to discuss issues of common interest and to inform the public at large on the challenges ahead during the accession period.
On 12th and 13th February 2015, the EESC sent a mission to Albania. This mission's objective was to gather information for the drafting of an exploratory opinion, requested by the European Commission on the Role of civil society in EU-Albania relations.
EESC held two hearing attended by 40 organisations of the civil society in Tirana and 30 organisations in Shkoder.
In addition, EESC Members had meeting with the Chair of the European Integration Committee of the Parliament, the OImbudsman for Albania, representatives of the Ministry for European Integration and ministry for Social Welfare and Youth, the Agency to support Civil Society and the National Labour Council.
For the 7th time, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Montenegro held the Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC).
The meeting was held in Brussels and tackled following issues:
- The current state of play in EU-Montenegro relations and the accession process
- The Connectivity Agenda in the areas of Energy and Transport
- Chapter 5 - Public procurement
- The state of industrial relations and the development of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Montenegro