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The Conference on the Future of Europe (CotFoE) presents a unique opportunity for citizens to discuss – at a European, national, regional and local level – how to shape the future of the old continent in terms of securing reforms that would lead towards progress, prosperity, and security. As these issues cannot be properly tackled without integrating the Western Balkans (WB) into the wider debates, European Policy Centre (CEP – Belgrade) has taken a proactive step forward by organising a high-level conference under the name EUROPE COMPLETE.
The title of this initiative was deliberately chosen to showcase that only a united Europe, a continent comprised of countries sharing common values, can properly address the ever-growing number of cross-border challenges. This concept therefore extends beyond the EU as it envisions the WB as an essential piece of the European puzzle.
Considering that discussions in the framework of the CotFoE are well under way, with a goal of concluding by the summer of the next year, EUROPE COMPLETE was registered at the official Portal of the CotFoE. The key message of the event was that the time is ripe for an open and critical deliberation, not on whether the WB can contribute to the development of the European project, but on how and to what extent. That is why this CEP Presents provides a succinct analysis of key themes that marked the event, such as the idea of introducing a model of accession in stages, involving the region into wider European strategic autonomy, further exploiting the economic benefits from the cooperation between the EU and the Western Balkans, and exploring ways for giving a stronger say to European youth in the context of digital challenges. Hence, the subchapters of this paper follow the titles of panels of the event and present the main ideas, critiques, and conclusions of each panel discussion.