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.
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 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).
On 24 May in Sarajevo, the EESC's Western Balkans Follow-up Committee held its yearly external meeting - for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic - to meet with civil society organisations (CSOs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and discuss their role and concerns regarding the current situation. The conclusions will be conveyed to the country's political authorities and to the EU institutions.
The May plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a debate led by its President Christa Schweng and the President of the European Council Charles Michel on Europe's response to this turning point in history.
EESC criticises European Council decision to deny the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is deeply disappointed about EU leaders' decision to further postpone opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania at the European Council of 17-18 October, due to the lack of unanimity between the Member States.
The 7th edition of the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum, which took place in Tirana on 16 and 17 April, concluded with a call for the next Commission to maintain the Western Balkans enlargement policy as one of its priorities in the interest of both the region and of the EU.
For the 8th time, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Montenegro held the Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) in Budva, Montenegro.
This meeting tackled following issues: Assessment of the state of play in Montenegro accession negotiations to the EU, Chapter 28 of the accession negotiations – with focus on Consumer protection and Debate on the situation of young people on the labour market.
For the 7th time, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Montenegro held the Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC).
The meeting was held in Brussels and tackled following issues:
- The current state of play in EU-Montenegro relations and the accession process
- The Connectivity Agenda in the areas of Energy and Transport
- Chapter 5 - Public procurement
- The state of industrial relations and the development of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Montenegro