The high-level civil society conference on youth policy in the Western Balkans, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), highlighted the key role of young people for the future of the region and called for their active involvement in policy-making.
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.
On 24 May in Sarajevo, the EESC's Western Balkans Follow-up Committee held its yearly external meeting - for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic - to meet with civil society organisations (CSOs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and discuss their role and concerns regarding the current situation. The conclusions will be conveyed to the country's political authorities and to the EU institutions.
The May plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a debate led by its President Christa Schweng and the President of the European Council Charles Michel on Europe's response to this turning point in history.
EESC criticises European Council decision to deny the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is deeply disappointed about EU leaders' decision to further postpone opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania at the European Council of 17-18 October, due to the lack of unanimity between the Member States.
The 7th edition of the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum, which took place in Tirana on 16 and 17 April, concluded with a call for the next Commission to maintain the Western Balkans enlargement policy as one of its priorities in the interest of both the region and of the EU.