Almost 170 participates on 5 panel discussions critically examined the topics relevant to the EU accession of the Western Balkan region and the development in the context of partnership, solidarity and responsibility in the post COVID-19 era on the regional on-line conference “Move & Link & Engage” held 21-23 September, 2020. The conference, organised by Belgrade Open School (BOS) and supported partly by EU TACSO 3 within the framework of its P2P On-demand Programme, gathered representatives of civil society, public institutions, business community, researchers and activists from the Western Balkans and the EU. It provided CSOs new insights and knowledge supporting the further implementation of EU standards and values and underpinning regional cooperation.
The overarching idea of the Conference was to re-examine the EU reaction to COVID-19 pandemic, present the key features of the Recovery Plan for Europe and explore the impact on these latest developments on the EU perspectives of the Western Balkans. The Conference helped CSOs to familiarise themselves with latest practices of EU institutions and the Member States and the decision-making process, as well as to learn about the ongoing processes that could have impact on EU integration process of their countries.
As an act of solidarity, it is expected that the EU is to provide equal access to resources and equal treatment of all citizens from Western Balkan countries – was the conclusion of the session titled “Partners in Crisis 1 – Institutional (Non-) Functioning in the Time of Crisis” led by the key note speakers, Vladimir Bilčik, Member of the European Parliament and Dusan Reljic, Head of the Brussels Office of the German Institute for International Relations and Security Affairs.
During the session “Partners in Crisis 2 – Economic Measures in Time of Crisis and Their Impact on Future Partnership”, the discussions evolved around the question how the EU and the Member States individually will cope with the consequences and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Key note speakers Ms. Marija Desivojević Cvetković, Vice-President of Strategy and Development, Delta Holding, Mr. Duško Vasiljević, Senior Private Sector Specialist, the World Bank and Mr. Milivoje Jovanović, President at Association of Entrepreneurs “Start Up for Your Business” agreed that it is necessary for the states to take targeted measures of economic aid in order to eliminate the consequences of the crisis. Also, they should help small and medium enterprises, and with these indirectly influence companies that do business with them. In conclusion, solidarity and cross-sectoral partnership are of key importance in overcoming the economic consequences of the pandemic both in Serbia and in the Western Balkans region.
The central focus of the session “Partnership for Youth Employability Development” was the issue of consequences that the health crisis caused by the COVID- 19 pandemic threatens to leave on the economy, indicating that the world society is on the verge of facing a new, emerging global recession. The conclusion of this panel, led by Ms. Irena Topali, Program Manager, Beyond Barriers Association, Mr. Nand Shani, Project Manager of Employment and Social Affairs Platform, Regional Cooperation Council and Ms. Maja Marković, Project mMnager, Groupe SOS Pulse referred to the possibilities and need for cooperation between business and civil society i.e. only through a comprehensive partnership the key challenges facing Western Balkans societies – youth unemployment, lack of entrepreneurial initiatives and development of social entrepreneurship, can be solved.
At the session: “Development Beyond Coal: Utilising Partnerships for Achieving Local Sustainable Development and Just Energy Transition in Coal-reliant Communities”, the European Green Deal and the EU climate policy were discussed. This panel concluded that the role of civil society and local communities in energy transition and awareness raising for environmental standards in the EU is very important. In addition, countries of the Western Balkans have not made significant progress in the energy transition process and have a long way to go before switching to renewable energy sources. It is important to involve all stakeholders in these processes, to connect local communities, as well as to support them to follow the examples of good practice. The panelists of this session included Ms. Dr Anna Sobczak, Policy Coordinator for EU Coal Regions in Transition, Just Transition Fund in the context of EU Green Deal, Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER), European Commission, Mr. Nikos Mantzaris, Senior Policy Analyst and Partner, The Green Tank and Mr. Prof. Dr Petar Đukić, Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy, University of Belgrade.
In addition to the Conference sessions, the “Food for Thoughts Workshop” was organised, where 10 representatives of CSOs from Serbia and Western Balkan region discussed the EU accession process and the future challenges on the path toward the EU integration.
More info on the Conference:
Sessions Videos – 22 September:
Sessions videos – 23 September:
Links to the social media:
Conference site – http://mle.bos.rs/2019/
Facebook – BOS Policy lab, https://www.facebook.com/BOSPolicyLab
Facebook – Beogradska otvorena skola, https://www.facebook.com/bos.rs/
Instagram – Belgrade Open School, https://www.instagram.com/beogradska_otvorena_skola/?hl=en
YouTube – Belgrade Open School, https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=belgrade+open+school