The Western Balkans Conference was planned as a civil society contribution to the EU-Western Balkans Heads of State Summit, scheduled by the Bulgarian Presidency that took place on 17 May 2018 in Sofia. The Conference gathered EESC members, civil society representatives of the countries of the Western Balkans, as well as Bulgarian officials and members of the organized civil society (including social partners from the Economic and Social Council of Bulgaria). The outcome of the Conference was shared with the participants of the EU-Western Balkans Summit.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Serbia held the 6th meeting of their Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) at the EESC in Brussels. This civil society platform between the EESC and civil society in Serbia was established within the institutional framework of the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in order to 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 of the challenges ahead during the accession period. Besides the current state of play in EU-Serbia relations and the accession process, main topic of the 6th JCC meeting was: Social economy and Involvement of social partners and other civil society organisations in the elaboration of Economic Reform Programmes. A common declaration of the JCC was issued after the meeting.
The European Union and the Western Balkans have a shared interest in working more closely together to guarantee all our citizens economic and social development, as well as security. The future of the region is a European future. The EU and the Western Balkans economies have benefited from closer integration as trade doubled in the last 10 years. The EU is today the first trading partner of the region, the biggest investor and the most credible and reliable political and geostrategic partner.
Croatia and the whole Western Balkan region appear very high on the agenda of external relations of the EESC. We run quite a wide range of activities with the various countries of the Western Balkan region: we issue opinions, operate together with our partners in the Joint Consultative Committees, and since 2006 we also come together to specific Civil Society Forums with representatives of the organised civil society from the entire Western Balkan region. The representatives from Croatia have very actively taken part in these events and have shared their experience with the other participants.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has developed a dual approach, regional and bilateral, for its relations with civil society organizations (CSOs) of the Western Balkans.
The EU Neighbourhood, especially the candidates and potential candidates for EU accession, is at the very top of the priority list for the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) with regard to external relations.
In this issue:
- Exploring New Role Models for Societies in Europe
- The Western Balkans - Where is their Place?
- Debating the Liberal Professions in the age of digitalisation
- Fundamental Rights and the Rule of law - Trends in the EU from civil society perspective
- 4th European Justice Stakeholders' Forum Annual Plenary - Rights under threat?