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EESK deltar aktivt i EU:s utvidgningsprocess och har utvecklat en tvådelad – regional och bilateral – strategi för förbindelserna med civilsamhällesorganisationer i utvidgningsländerna.

När det gäller den regionala strategin är uppföljningskommittén för västra Balkan – ett permanent internt EESK-organ – det främsta instrumentet för att samordna EESK:s verksamhet i denna region. Forumet för det civila samhället på västra Balkan, som anordnas vartannat år, ingår i uppföljningskommitténs arbete.

EESK samarbetar även bilateralt med länderna på västra Balkan och Turkiet. På grundval av associeringsavtal mellan dessa länder och EU, som syftar till att involvera civilsamhällesorganisationer i föranslutnings- och anslutningsprocesserna, har EESK inrättat tre gemensamma organ med företrädare för det civila samhället – med Turkiet, Montenegro och Serbien. Varje organ består av lika många medlemmar från EESK som från partnerlandet och sammanträder två gånger om året.

EESK har regelbundna kontakter och anordnar gemensamma aktiviteter med civilsamhällesorganisationer i de utvidgningsländer med vilka inget gemensamt organ med företrädare för det civila samhället ännu inrättats.

Arbetet i de gemensamma organen kompletteras med EESK-yttranden om föranslutnings- och anslutningsprocesserna i de enskilda länderna samt om frågor av regionalt intresse.

  • The EESC has adopted an opinion on the new Reform and Growth Facility for the Western Balkans, at the Commission's request. The plan will support the Western Balkans to speed up regional economic cooperation. This is the first time the EU has focused on economic development and socioeconomic convergence in the region.

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    The 18th meeting of the EU-Montenegro Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), which took place in Podgorica today, sent a clear message to the EU institutions, that Montenegro is firmly committed to becoming the 28th member by 2028. The JCC members encouraged their organisations, the national authorities and the EU institutions to spare no efforts to accomplish the rule of law interim benchmarks. Obtaining the Interim Benchmark Assessment Report (IBAR) for the rule of law by June, will be a turning point in the EU accession process, enabling provisional closing of other chapters.

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    Today, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) officially launched its initiative to welcome civil society representatives from EU candidate countries. A total of 131 'Enlargement Candidate Members' (ECM) were selected to make up  the pool of civil society experts who will be participating in the Committee's work, thus making the EESC the first institution to open its doors to EU candidate countries. The initiative, a political priority of EESC President Oliver Röpke, sets new standards for involving candidate countries in EU activities, facilitating their progressive and tangible integration into the EU.

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    In the run-up to the EU-Western Balkans Summit, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) met with Montenegrin civil society on 7 December 2023 to take stock of the country's accession progress, and in particular its public administration reform. The participants raised concerns about the weakening capacity of the country's public administration to respond to the growing demands of the EU agenda. However, with the new government, there is a window of opportunity for the necessary reforms to move forward in the accession negotiations.

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    The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held the 9th edition of the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum on 19-20 October 2023, just a few weeks ahead of the European Commission's Enlargement Package and the New Growth Plan. The Forum signalled a renewed momentum for the region to join the EU, in view of the current geopolitical situation and a clear commitment of EU leaders to the enlargement policy. Representatives of Civil Society Organisations stressed the need for greater support and safeguarding of civic space to facilitate the essential socio-economic reforms required for EU integration.

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    The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomed representatives from civil society organisations from candidate countries at its July plenary session, announcing the initiative to appoint Honorary Enlargement Members and invite them to participate in the daily advisory work of the Committee

  • 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.

  • Panel I - In the shadow of war: Europe's new geopolitical context and the consequences for the future of the EU, Zagreb

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    The high-level civil society conference on youth policy in the Western Balkans, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), highlighted the key role of young people for the future of the region and called for their active involvement in policy-making. 

  • 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.