The EESC, together with its civil society partners from the region, strongly supports further EU enlargement to the Western Balkans countries. As stated in the Final Declaration from the EESC's 8th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum, held on 30 September and 1 October 2021 in Skopje, North Macedonia, European integration of the Western Balkans represents a geostrategic investment in the peace, stability, and economic as well as social development of the entire continent.
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The conference on the Geopolitics of the Green Deal, held by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) together with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), highlighted the wide-ranging geopolitical implications of the Green Deal both for Europe and the world as a whole.
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.
In the 23rd hybrid meeting of the EU Domestic Advisory Group (DAG) under the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was the first EU DAG meeting after the Civil Society Forum with the Korean counterparts, all participants underlined the importance of the ratification of three fundamental ILO conventions by the Republic of Korea in April 2021.
Through increased transatlantic dialogue, the Trade and Technology Council and the upcoming Summit for Democracy, the United States and the European Union have reached out to each other to jointly face global and internal challenges, and build a strong partnership on the basis of common democratic values.
On 9th November took place the 1st meeting of the EU and the Vietnam Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs), established under the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement – only a few days ahead of the First EU-Vietnam Joint Forum with Civil Society.
At its October plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on the EU's approach to Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) and reviewing its 15-point action plan.
After the first ever All DAGs meeting held in July as a ground-breaking step towards increasing impact, the chairs and vice-chairs of the civil society bodies advising on trade and sustainable development are starting to roll out recommendations to strengthen DAGs and deliver a clear message to the European Commission.
The situation of civil society in Belarus following the presidential elections in August 2020 and the huge level of repression, as well as the tragic fate of the people in Afghanistan, show that the EU has to speak up with one voice in the geopolitical arena.
The EESC's Western Balkans Civil Society Forum, which took place in Skopje on 30 September and 1 October, put the spotlight on the need for a clear EU accession perspective for the region and the role civil society should play in this process.
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