Conference “EU and Western Balkans–between distrust and common interests“

June 25, 2022. – The conference “EU and the Western Balkans – between distrust and common interests” was held today in Banja Luka.

One of the speakers at the Conference was Nebojsa Lazarevic, one of the European Policy Centre’s founders, along with Goran Svilanovic – former Minister of foreign affairs of FR Yugoslavia and former Secretary General of the Council for Regional Cooperation, Kori Udovicki – former vice president of the Government of Serbia and chief economist of the Centre for Advanced Economic Studies in Belgrade, Emir Dikic – CEFTA’s director, Maja Sever – president of the European federation of journalists, Neven Andjelic – professor at Regent’s University in London, Katarina Peovic – deputy in the Croatian Parliament, Drago Kos – chairman of the OECD Working Group on Bribery. The conclusion of the Conference is that the region needs stronger engagement from the EU, a new incentive for integrations and support in key reforms such as rule of law.

The slowdown of European integration in the region was caused by insufficient commitment to the European path and reforms in the Western Balkans, but, on the other hand, internal problems in the EU itself led to the blocking of the European path for those countries that met difficult conditions, and the result of all this is a drop in public support to the process of European integration. Lazarevic presented the Model of Staged Accession which was developed by CEP in cooperation with Centre for European Policy Studies from Brussels, which proposes a way to overcome the impasse in European integration in order to reach a concrete perspective of membership and benefits for citizens in the near future – which will be achieved by giving greatly increased funds to the countries that are implementing painful reforms and have a problem to catch up with the EU, already in the pre-accession phase, as well as by allowing them to participate in discussions and meetings of the Council of the EU, the European Council and various committees.

The need to strengthen regional cooperation in order to build mutual trust and strengthen the civil society sector was also emphasized at the conference.

The Conference was organized by TI BiH with the support of Swedish Embassy in BiH.

The news was partially taken from the site Transparency International.