ODRAZ director participated on the discussion on Western Balkans in the European Economic and Social Committee
On March 3 2021, European Economic and Social Committee held a debate on the Western Balkan, in which ODRAZ director Lidija Pavić-Rogošić actively participated as a member of the working group for drafting the opinion Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans.
The topic of the First block was on the context of EU and Western Balkans relations and the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the panelists was Tonino Picula, President of the European Parliament’s Working group for Western Balkans.
Nikola Dobroslavić, The Chair of the Working group of the Committee for Western Balkans and rapporteur for the Opinion for the Enlargement Package, was panelist in second part discussing the economic and social situation and the role of civil society organisations and local and regional authorities in region. This was followed by a discussion of the EESC opinion draft Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans. ODRAZ director Lidija Pavić-Rogošić, was a member of working group for drafting that opinion. She was actively involved in discussion, as were other Croatian representatives in EESC. As good example of regional cooperation, she presented the sustainable urban development network CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-SEE.
Some highlights of the discussion and opinion:
The EESC welcomes the EU’s desire to strengthen its cooperation with the region and welcomes the commitment of Western Balkans partners to implement the necessary reforms.
The EESC welcomes the Commission’s proposals to strengthen the accession process and the Council’s ‘green light’ to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, but regrets that the process has been blocked again and calls on the Union to be a reliable partner and removes obstacles which obstruct beginning of the negotiation as soon as possible.
In addressing common challenges and problems that are not only political, but also economic and social and environmental in nature, social partners and other civil society organisations should play a bigger role and be more actively involved in the enlargement process. Organizes civil society connects politics and people and helps to monitor whether fundamental principles as free speech, the rule of law, media independence, equal treatment and fight against corruption are being put into place.
Importance should be given to the building trust among all participants and secure that the accession process is based on mutual trust and clear, shared obligations with an aim of regaining credibility on both sides.
The draft opinion will be discussed on plenary session and the full text will be available after adoption.