Beyond Civil Society: Prospects and Limits for civil Society’s role in EU Integration in the Balkans, Извештај од конференцијата на претставниците на граѓанските здруженија во Белград., 26,27 Фебруари 2016 година.

Десетина претставници од граѓнски здруженија од Р. Македонија на 26 и 27 Фебрурари 2016 година учествуваа на КОнференцијата со наслов: Повеќе од граѓанско општево: можностите и ограничувањата на граѓанското општество во ЕУ интеграцијата на Балканот. Од страна на Европското движење во РМ учестуваа проф. д-р Милева Ѓуровска, – претсесател на ЕДРМ и Никола Тодоровски- секретар за меѓународна соработка. Подетален извештај од оваа конференција е даден од страна на организаторите.  Кoментарот на македонските претставници беше дека во програмата на оваа конференција не беше ниту еден официјален претставник на Р. Македонија. Претседателеката на ЕДРМ јавно, пред целиот форум ја изнесе оваа забелешка.   Maja Bobic (General secretary of EPuS) Rapport from the Conference: EU enlargement is also a process that is losing support from the public in candidate, potential candidate and EU Member states alike. Mutual relations between citizens, society and, frequently, institutions and businesses are clearly underdeveloped. Not that knowing each other would automatically make us kin or prepare us for membership: but lack of information and interest is definitely stirring both realistic and unfounded prejudices and, put simply, is not helping. These two problems, or rather questions, were the focus of the European Movement International (EMI) and the European Movement in Serbia (EMinS) Conference on February 25-26, 2016 in Belgrade. The event – part of a series of regular CS Congresses organised by the oldest pan-European CSO, EM international – was supported by TACSO and the EU and gathered 200 participants. The majority were representatives of CS from the region, but respective government representatives, EU institutions and European CSOs were also present. The work was organized over two days in 3 plenaries and 2 sets of Workshops taking place in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, followed by “World Café” discussion. In the debate about CSO-government dialogue in EU integration, we have discussed the prioritization of the new EU enlargement policy, where the criteria for Chapters 23 and 24 are most developed. But it was also observed that the EU does not always and consistently insist on transparency.  It was emphasized that dialogue is important, so that CS has the required know-how, adds to the accountability of the reform process and improves communication with citizens (Srdjan Majstorovic, Serbian EI Office). But it was also mentioned that national governments tend to cooperate only to the extent that ‘it does not hurt’, and the bottom line is that they are responsible for providing space for the CSOs (Alida Vracic, Mercator fellow). In striving to be effective, the practice of emergency ordinances is used extensively in the region, so the process ends up being ‘less democratic’.  It was emphasized that we need more regional CSO cooperation in the rule of law, especially in monitoring and regionally addressing the issue of financial resources.  The appeal was heard that international donors should support informal forms of cooperation in the region rather than imposing certain formats. More of the practical inputs and conclusions from the workshops that focused on different roles of the CSOs (consultative, monitoring, programming assistance) and three EU enlargement priorities (rule of law, economic governance and competitiveness and public administration reform) will be available soon and hopefully provide guidelines for both the EU and the region, both governments and CSOs. One very interesting debate focused on enlargement policy and the ways in which to ‘regain enlargement momentum’. While it was recognized that enlargement policy is a strong indicator of whether the European model is still attractive (Tomasz Strazay, SFPA), it was also observed that enlargement momentum is connected to integration momentum, and there is an accumulation of crisis in the EU, a diversion of opinions and attitudes, a fragmentation of Europe which is undoing past achievements.  We need to rebuild trust and identify a set of common goals (Corina Stratulat, EPC). That there is a need for a pan-European rule of law mechanism in order to be credible and maintain reform achievements in the EU itself, and at the same time, a need for making the political case for enlargement, politicizing it and linking it to big European issues (Marina Skabalo, GONG, EESC), is well understood among regional CSOs. However, there is the bitter resonance of the politicization of migration flows and Turkey’s EU accession, revealing how the rule of law can be overlooked if ‘greater’ issues are at stake. The secret ingredients for the acceding country, the past teaches us, are a functional state, a willing constituency, a capable political elite (statesmanship) and European self-confidence (Francisco de Borja Lasheras, ECFR). All are missing currently.

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