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ETSK on aktiivisesti mukana EU:n laajentumisprosessissa ja on kehittänyt kaksitahoisen – alueellisen ja kahdenvälisen – lähestymistavan suhteilleen kansalaisyhteiskunnan organisaatioiden kanssa laajentumismaissa.

Alueellisen lähestymistavan yhteydessä Länsi-Balkanin seurantakomitea – joka on ETSK:n pysyvä sisäinen elin – on tärkein ETSK:n toimia tällä alueella koordinoiva väline. Kahden vuoden välein järjestettävä Länsi-Balkanin kansalaisyhteiskuntafoorumi on osa seurantakomitean työtä.

ETSK työskentelee myös kahdenvälisesti Länsi-Balkanin maiden ja Turkin kanssa. ETSK on perustanut näiden maiden ja EU:n välillä tehtyjen assosiaatiosopimusten pohjalta Turkin, Montenegron ja Serbian kanssa kolme yhteiselintä, joissa on mukana kansalaisyhteiskunnan edustajia, jotta kansalaisyhteiskunnan organisaatiot voisivat osallistua liittymistä edeltäviin prosesseihin ja liittymisprosesseihin. Kussakin elimessä on sama määrä jäseniä ETSK:sta ja kumppanimaista, ja ne kokoontuvat kahdesti vuodessa.

ETSK pitää säännöllisesti yhteyttä niiden laajentumismaiden kansalaisyhteiskunnan organisaatioihin, joiden kanssa ei ole vielä perustettu kansalaisyhteiskunnan edustajien yhteiselintä, ja järjestää niiden kanssa yhteistä toimintaa.

Yhteiselinten työtä täydentävät ETSK:n valmistelemat lausunnot yksittäisten maiden liittymistä edeltävistä prosesseista ja liittymisprosesseista sekä alueellisesti kiinnostavista aiheista.

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Cohesion policy is key to overcoming the COVID-19 crisis, to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and to reducing disparities in Europe. Its most serious challenge for the foreseeable future, however, is the war in Ukraine, the EESC cautions in a recent opinion. Rapid action is needed to help refugees and ensure the country's European integration.


The 51st Western Balkans Follow-up Committee meeting, held on 3 December 2021, placed conflict resolution and normalisation of relations between Kosovo* and Serbia in the spotlight. The meeting, presided by Ionuţ Sibian, hosted prominent speakers from the ranks of EU officials, Western Balkans experts, as well as civil society representatives from the local communities, all of whom agreed that EU-facilitated dialogue was the only way to move forward.


Members of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and representatives of the Montenegrin organised civil society held on the 1st March the 14th meeting of the EU-Montenegro Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), which took place online. Members of the JCC adopted a joint declaration urging the EU to assist Montenegro to face the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.


The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has strongly supported the enlargement of the European Union to the six Western Balkans countries provided they fulfil all the necessary criteria for membership. In the aftermath of the Council's non-decision to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in October 2019, we have reacted swiftly by adopting, on 31 October, a Resolution expressing our profound disappointment by the lack of unanimity from the Member States. The EESC has since been committed to working closely and intensively with the civil society in the Western Balkans to support and reassure them that their place is in the European Union.


The EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) held a meeting in Podgorica on June 7 to discuss the state of play in Montenegro's EU accession negotiations. The members of the JCC agreed on a joint declaration, which calls on the EU institutions to continue to be supportive of the EU enlargement policy after the European elections in May 2019 and on the Montenegrin authorities to produce tangible results in the areas of rule of law, media freedom, fight against organised crime and corruption.


Civil society representatives from both the EU and Turkey called on Turkish authorities to undertake major reforms in the fields of rule of law and human rights as a prerequisite to resume accession negotiations with the EU. This was one of the main conclusions of the 38th meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) held in Brussels on 8 and 9 April, which also agreed on the important role of the JCC as an open channel for exchanges at civil society level.


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).