This years' meeting of the EESC's Western Balkans Follow-up Committee outside of Brussels took place on 24 May 2022 in the Delegation of the European Union in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and included a hearing with the civil society organisations (CSOs).
For the 15th time, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Montenegro held the Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC). It took place in Brussels and tackled issues such as: Current state of play in EU-Montenegro relations including 2021 Montenegro Report / Revised enlargement methodology – Cluster 1: The Fundamentals of the Accession Process, with a special focus on Economic Criteria, Public procurement, Statistics and Financial Control and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic / Overview of the civil society situation in Montenegro.
A joint declaration was adopted at the meeting and distributed to all relevant EU institutions, as well as to the Montenegrin authorities.
It is a platform established within the institutional framework of the EU‑Serbia Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), enabling representatives of both the EU and the Serbian civil society to monitor the country's accession negotiations, discuss issues of common interest and point out concerns to be tackled on the Serbian path towards the European Union.
Topics on the agenda: how to enhance the accession process – a credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans; the contribution of CSOs to the Green Agenda and sustainable development of the Western Balkans as part of the EU accession process; the state of social dialogue, as well as enabling civic space in the Western Balkans.
The EESC organised its 7th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum in Tirana on 16-17 April 2019.
The main topics on the agenda were the role of civil society organisations in promoting regional cooperation (trade and investment, connectivity and people to people relations), the state of social dialogue, as well as enabling civic space in the Western Balkans.
It brought together approximately 180 participants, including a broad range of civil society representatives from the EU and the Western Balkans, as well as representatives of EU institutions, international organisations and governments of the region.
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 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.
At the request of the current Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU, the EESC was asked to prepare an exploratory opinion on the challenges and priorities that countries of the Western Balkans are facing in the European integration process, as well as in the area of economic and social cohesion. Western Balkans will be one of the policy priorities of the Bulgarian presidency and a Western Balkans Summit is scheduled to take place in May 2018 in Sofia. Following the recent economic crises in Europe, the forecasts for economic growth in the Western Balkans are now good, although progress on reform has been slow, the rule of law has been weak, and corruption is persistent.
This 10th JCC was held in Brussels and it tackled the following issues:
- The current state of play in EU-Montenegro relations and the accession process
- The digitalization as a tool for social and economic development
- Public administration reform
- Overview of the civil society in Montenegro
- State of the media sector in Montenegro
- The Joint Declaration from the meeting was adopted
9th meeting of the EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee.