9 June 2020 – Today, members of the regional Think for Europe Network (TEN) took part in the “COVID-19 Pandemic in the Western Balkans: Effects on Democracy, Rule of Law, and Civil Society” closed-door workshop organised by the Aspen Institute Germany. This workshop gathered members of the expert community from the EU and the region along with officials from the EU and its member states. As a basis for discussion, six TEN representatives presented a working paper which addressed some possible long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on critical democratic principles and rule of law in the Western Balkans. The participants also discussed the way forward in the coming period, stressing the importance of empowering civil society, the media, and national parliaments in their watchdog functions and not neglecting women and vulnerable groups as those most affected by the ongoing pandemic.
Insights from this discussion will contribute to the forthcoming TEN policy brief, which tackles the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the functioning of rule of law and democracy in the Western Balkans.