Renew Europe CoR demands a recalibration of the EU’s approach to the Western Balkans to navigate enlargement fatigue and foster a more positive and impactful relationship with accession countries.
The Group has followed up on the European Commission’s Enlargement package and the annual Joint Consultative Committees (JCCs) and Working Groups (WGs) on Western Balkans of the European Committee of the Regions, adopting a few recommendations.
These include addressing disinformation, communicating about the EU’s achievements at the local level, direct funding for citizens and supporting SMEs to combat demographic decline.
The EU’s perceived invisibility of EU projects on the ground remains a key challenge, as it has been used as an excuse for stagnation in the enlargement process and blamed for increasing enlargement fatigue and Euroscepticism.
Engaging with students and youth in the region reveals a strong pro-European orientation. However, the younger population keeps leaving their home countries, exacerbating demographic trends and leaving behind a more susceptible demographic to Eurosceptic populism.
Local politicians’ diminished participation in our partnership fora is also a worry, as those holding onto the European dream feel they are unable to access crucial EU funding.
Despite the EU remaining the top investor and an important trading partner for the Western Balkans, the enlargement process requires a profound change in the mindset of local, regional and national politicians.
Renew Europe CoR is stepping up its collaboration with liberal partners in the region, namely with a new joint project with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, as well as collaboration with LIBSEEN and liberal parties in those countries and their Mayors.
Source : aldeparty