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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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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).

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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.


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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.


For the 8th time, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Montenegro held the Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) in Budva, Montenegro.

This meeting tackled following issues: Assessment of the state of play in Montenegro accession negotiations to the EU, Chapter 28 of the accession negotiations – with focus on Consumer protection and Debate on the situation of young people on the labour market.