The Role of Civil Society and Youth in the EU Integration Process: Online Sessions

From June 22 to July 6, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung organized a web-seminar series titled "The Role of Civil Society and Youth in the EU Integration Process". Hosted by FES’ EU Office in Brussels and office in Tirana, the sessions brought together representatives from national youth organizations from each of the Western Balkans countries. The participants had the opportunity to exchange experiences among themselves and engage in constructive debates with EU stakeholders.

The primary objective of the series was the discussion of common issues relevant to youth in the Western Balkan region, which youth representative organizations have a clear view of, and to put them in a broader, European-level context. The series was divided into five separate meetings, each featuring an important topic in the dialogue between civil society and EU organizations.

“The EU Accession of Western Balkan Countries” was discussed with Mr. Marco Schwarz, Policy Officer for Democracy (FES EU Office in Brussels), and the participants had broadened the benefits and the challenges of the new enlargement methodology, as well as the overall Western Balkans perspective. The youth representatives talked about the “Inclusion of Civil Society in the Enlargement Process” as a must, with Ms. Liselotte Isaksson, Head of Civil Society and Social Inclusion Department in the WB Unit (DG NEAR – EC).

Two sessions featured the topic “Shaping the Future of Europe”, with Maria Freitas, Senior Policy Advisor for democratic participation and responsible for the Millennial Dialogue (FEPS), and with Delara Burkhardt, MEP. With them, we discussed the new generations’ political attitudes and interests, and exchanged opinions on how and what we can learn from a European youth perspective.

Last but not least, participants had the chance to talk about strengthening the capacities of youth organizations, their sustainability and representation on a European level with Jovana Majstorović, Member of the Board of the European Youth Forum, the largest European youth organization.

This productive series brought about fruitful and informative conclusions that all of us could learn from. This civil society and youth perspective on the European Union enhanced the importance of direct dialogue of the region and the EU in the integration process and added emphasis on values of intraregional connectivity.

A full video of the webinar series will be available soon.

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