European Economic and Social Committee holds 9th edition of the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum

European Economic and Social Committee holds 9th edition of the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has just held the 9th edition of the Western Balkans Civil Society Forum on (19-20 October).

It comes 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.

The forum was organised in cooperation with the European Commission, the European Training Foundation, the Regional Cooperation Council and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) in Thessaloniki, where 20 years ago the path to the European future of the Western Balkans was confirmed. The participants recognised the strong and vital role of civil society organisations (CSOs) to ensure that economic, social and political reforms are anchored to society.

Oliver Röpke.

Dubravka Šuica

The speakers, who came from various CSOs and NGOs across all countries in the Western Balkans, mentioned the challenges that civil society organisations are facing, such as sporadic consultations, notable decline in cooperation with the governments, limited involvement in the monitoring and implementation process of the European policies, restricted access to foreign funding and information.

The forum discussed the state of the education system, youth policy and skills development in the Western Balkans including adult education, lifelong learning and vocational education and training, with particular emphasis on the skills supply and demand in the labour market, equitable opportunities for both foster skills and holistic personal development, improvement of the green and digital skills of the adult population and motivation of employees and unemployed people to receive additional education.

Mara Brugia.

Read also: EESC calls for special international tribunal on “crimes of aggression against Ukraine”


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