Statement by Christa Schweng, president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), and Dimitris Dimitriadis, president of the Section for External Relations (REX)
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), representing the economic and social interests of organised civil society in the European Union (EU), has strongly and consistently supported the enlargement of the European Union to the six Western Balkans countries provided they fulfil all the necessary criteria for membership.
As the role and the voice of the civil society are vital for making any tangible progress on issues and values at the very core of the European Union, the EESC made the present declaration as its contribution to the political leaders participating to the Western Balkans Summit on 6 May 2020.
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.