The role for civil society in EU enlargement and the Berlin Process

BRUSSELS – Brussels-based European Policy Centre (EPC), in cooperation with the European Fund for the Balkans, organized a conference on the the topic “EU enlargement and the Berlin Process: What is the role of civil society?”.

The participants were: Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director of the Centre of civic education, Andris Kesteris, Principal Adviser for Civil Society and Media related issues in DG for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Niccolo Milanese, Chair of European Alternatives, Dane Taleski, Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, Igor Bandović, Senior Programme Manager for the European Fund for the Balkans and Corina Stratulat, Senior Policy Analyst at the EPC, who moderated the discussion.

At the Western Balkans Summit in Vienna last year, representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Balkans, were given the opportunity to engage in the Berlin process for the first time, as well as to present their policy recommendations. Supporting initiatives, like this gathering, are trying to strengthen the capacity of civil society actors in anticipation of the upcoming WB Summit, which will be held in Paris in July this year, where it will be possible to hear the voice of CSOs within the framework of the Civil Society Forum. Therefore, the focus of the discussion was on the assessment of the readiness of civil society to use the opportunities offered by the Berlin process, but also on the challenges that civil society faces in the region.

The gathering brought together about 40 representatives of the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the diplomatic missions to the EU, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as influential Brussels-based CSOs.