© EWB (European Western Balkans)
The EU launched the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE) in spring 2021 to open a new debate with citizens to address Europe's challenges and priorities.
The Western Balkans are at the heart of Europe. The EU is the main political, economic and trade partner of the region, and the citizens of the EU and WB share a common history, culture, and a common future. It is then natural for the citizens of the Western Balkans to be included in this debate.
As the High Representative/Vice-President wrote on Friday 15 October:
“We should be ready to embrace any good idea on how to do things better. In this context, we are also open to listen to citizens from around the world, particularly our closest partners such as those with whom we share common values as well as those who aspire to become members of the European Union such as for example the countries from the Western Balkans whose future lies in the EU.”
And he added:
“By listening and engaging citizens, we can receive valuable inspiration and recommendations. And in a next phase, it will be up to the political leadership, at EU and national levels, to take up these ideas and recommendations - and act upon them.”
“Building Europe Together“
The event “Building Europe Together“: Western Balkans contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe is organised by the think tank/media organisation European Western Balkans and it is supported by the EU. On Monday 18 October, the journalist Nikola Burazer from a TV studio in Belgrade, Serbia will connect to six citizens from and with strong connections to the Western Balkans who are keen for the region to become a source of solutions to the existing problems that citizens in Europe face.
Among the 6 participants, Selma Prodanović, Sarajevo-born, Vienna-based entrepreneur will focus on investing in advanced technologies and female entrepreneurship.
The event will be broadcasted on European Western Balkans’ YouTube and Facebook channels from 11:00 to 12:00 (CET) on Monday 18 October 2021. The event is registered on the platform of the CoFoE, where the event’s conclusions will also be uploaded.
Citizens of the Western Balkans and the EU connected in contributing to the Future of Europe
The Brdo Declaration adopted at the EU – Western Balkans Summit on 6 October 2021, states that the EU and the Western Balkans need to work together to face generation-defining tasks. The EU welcomed the initiatives of the Western Balkans to contribute to the reflections on the future of our continent.
This is a recognition of the effort by civil society organisations in the Western Balkans to engage in a series of debate throughout 2021 discussing what the region can do for the future of the European Union. Those contributions were submitted across the region in debates, which took place in several cities.
In July 2021, the panel “What can the Western Balkans do for the EU?”, part of the Prespa Forum inaugurated this exchange across the Western Balkans among citizens, youth, and civil society representatives from the region and the EU sharing ideas on how the region can contribute to shaping Union’s future policies and ambitions.
The EU-Western Balkans Media Literacy Conference, 27 September, Skopje, North Macedonia gathered fact-checkers, journalists, youth and authorities from the Western Balkans and the rest of Europe to discuss building resilience to disinformation.
The event Initiative, Engagement, Enthusiasm – Strengthening Democracy in BiH and the Region through Civic Activism, on 1 October in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, collected citizens’ best practices, ideas and challenges to explore ways of integrating them into the policy-making process and the wider European debate.
In Kosovo, the event Western Balkans Perspectives on the Future of Europe: Prishtina addressed among other things what distinct contributions the region can bring for advancing the European project.
On 4 October, EUROPE COMPLETE took place in Belgrade, Serbia, concluding that only a united Europe can properly address the ever-growing number of cross-border challenges.