- The EESC welcomes the Commission's communications adopted in 2020 in connection with the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans and agrees that integrating the Western Balkan partners into the EU represents a geostrategic investment in the peace, stability, security and economic growth of the entire continent. The Western Balkans are an integral part of Europe and a geostrategic priority for the EU.
- The EESC welcomes the European Green Deal, which includes specific objectives for the Western Balkans, as well as the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans accompanying the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.
- The EESC is convinced that, in addressing common challenges and problems that are not only political but also economic and social, social partners and other civil society organisations (CSOs) should play a greater role in, and be more actively involved in, the entire enlargement process. The Commission should define the concept of 'key stakeholders' more clearly.
- The EESC stresses that building the national capacity of CSOs and facilitating regional cooperation, as well as expertise exchange, should be maintained among the priorities of the EU and of national funding.
- The EESC welcomes the revised enlargement methodology adopted by the Commission in 2020. It welcomes the fact that negotiating chapters will be organised in thematic clusters and that negotiations on each cluster will be opened as a whole. The EESC is also particularly satisfied by the emphasis placed on the importance of the Fundamentals cluster and the fact that progress here will determine the overall pace of negotiations.
- Given the difficulties experienced by the Member States in reaching unanimity on enlargement, the EESC considers that the Council should revisit the possibility of introducing qualified majority voting, at least for all intermediary stages of the EU accession process.
- To rebuild confidence in enlargement and strengthen the ways in which the EU reaches out to its natural allies in the region, the EESC is convinced that the EU should allow political leaders and citizens from the Western Balkans to join the activities and discussions held in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), on a consultative basis.
- The EESC calls for High-Level Civil Society Conferences or Fora to be organised just before, or as side events to, the regular EU-Western Balkans Summits in order to allow the voice of civil society to be heard on subjects addressed at the summits.
Composition of the Study Group
Administrator in charge: David Hoić
Assistant: Nadja Kačičnik
For more information please contact the External relation Section secretariat