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Het EESC is actief betrokken bij het uitbreidingsproces van de EU en heeft een tweeledige aanpak ontwikkeld – regionaal en bilateraal – voor zijn betrekkingen met organisaties van het maatschappelijk middenveld in de uitbreidingslanden.

Met betrekking tot de regionale benadering is het follow-upcomité Westelijke Balkan – een permanent intern orgaan van het EESC – het belangrijkste instrument voor het coördineren van de activiteiten van het EESC in deze regio. Het forum voor het maatschappelijk middenveld van de Westelijke Balkan, dat om de twee jaar wordt georganiseerd, maakt deel uit van de werkzaamheden van het follow-upcomité.

Het EESC werkt ook bilateraal samen met landen van de Westelijke Balkan en Turkije. Op basis van de associatieovereenkomsten tussen deze landen en de EU, om de organisaties van het maatschappelijk middenveld te betrekken bij de pretoetredings- en toetredingsprocessen, heeft het EESC drie gemeenschappelijke organen gecreëerd met vertegenwoordigers van het maatschappelijk middenveld – met Turkije, Montenegro en Servië. Elk orgaan bestaat uit een gelijk aantal leden van het EESC en van het partnerland en komt tweemaal per jaar samen.

Het EESC onderhoudt regelmatige contacten en organiseert gezamenlijke activiteiten met de organisaties van het maatschappelijk middenveld van uitbreidingslanden waarmee nog geen gemeenschappelijk orgaan voor vertegenwoordigers van het maatschappelijk middenveld is opgericht.

De werkzaamheden van de gemeenschappelijke organen worden aangevuld met de voorbereiding van EESC-adviezen over de pretoetredings- en toetredingsprocessen van de afzonderlijke landen, alsmede over onderwerpen van regionaal belang.

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The  EU-Serbia Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) held its 14th meeting on 29 November 2022 in Belgrade, to discuss the state of play in the accession process and reform policies in the country. The participants from Serbia and the EU Institutions, as well as from civil society organisations pointed out concerns and challenges that still need further improvement. The joint declaration of the EU-Serbia JCC was adopted unanimously.


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).