Through the People to People (P2P) component of the EU TACSO3 Project, 27 representatives of a wide range of youth organisations from all Western Balkans beneficiaries were able to attend and contribute to the conference “HOW TO BETTER RESPOND TO EUROPEAN ASPIRATIONS OF THE YOUNG GENERATION IN THE WESTERN BALKANS?” organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, with the support of the European Commission, the EEA and Norway grants, in partnership with Regional Cooperation Council, Regional Youth Cooperation Office, National School for Political and Administrative Studies, European Youth Forum and Digital Citizen/Social Doers.

All participants were selected through an open call procedure  and had the chance to be one of the 200 representatives of youth organisations, social workers, young entrepreneurs, researchers, students and experts from Western Balkans and the European Union that met in Bucharest, on 28 -29 May 2019, to explore creative ways to amplify the role of youth in supporting the transformation of the Western Balkans.

Representatives of the European Commission, European External Actions Service, International Financial Institutions and international and regional organizations also attended the conference.

The Conference Objectives were the following:

  • Explore creative ways to inspire and empower young people in finding/improving their professional prospects in their own countries while restating the support for the European perspective of Western Balkans.
  • Facilitate the establishment of a long-lasting dialogue among young professionals from the local administration and civil society, entrepreneurs, academics, youth organizations from WB and EU, thus contributing to a better mutual understanding and attachment to the European values.
  • Enable the transfer of best practices and sharing of expertise among young professionals in the process of economic reforms, democratization and civic participation.
  • Raise awareness on the need of building trust and resilience, while contributing to the reconciliation efforts.
  • Support the implementation of the Enlargement Strategy (Commission’s Communication from 6 February 2018) and its flagship initiatives, as well as of the Sofia Priority Agenda (EU-Western Balkans Summit, Sofia, 17 May 2018).
  • Take stock of the European and regional strategic development framework for youth and offer models of cooperation and good practices to be promoted and further scaled up.

The conference was opened by Mr. Dan Neculăescu, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Romanian EU Council Presidency. His keynote address highlighted the importance granted by the EU Council Presidency to the enlargement policy and the focus on a positive agenda for youth.

Four thematic panels followed, focusing on themes including youth employment in the Western Balkans and the EU,  social and economic inclusion of youth, support to the next generation of young innovators and entrepreneurs, a new EU narrative for consolidating resilience in the Western Balkans together with advancing the EU enlargement agenda, e-participation and challenges and opportunities for cyber resilience and countering hate speech and fake news.

Throughout the event “success stories” were presented, initiatives and best practices discussed, and participants engaged in lively debates; conclusions and recommendations were drawn including the possible launching of the Western Balkans Network of Young Innovators.