The Civil Society Forum Belgrade is organised under the umbrella of the “Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit Series” and it comes as a follow-up of the Civil Society Forum Vienna 2015. It is a joint initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) and ERSTE Foundation, supported by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the EU Delegation in Serbia, and in close cooperation with the European Movement in Serbia – Local Council in Novi Sad, Center for Regionalism, EU Info Point Novi Sad and the Provincial Secretariat for Science and Technological Development.

This initiative will build up on the work that has already been done in the framework of the Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit Vienna 2015 and other follow up activities, including the RCC’s Regional Cooperation Day in Sarajevo in December 2015.

The Forum intends to contribute to the greater role, visibility and impact of the civil society in the so-called “Berlin process” and the broader EU integration process of the Western Balkan aspirants. The civil society organisations gathered around this initiative with the desire to develop a common position when it comes to following the footsteps of the Berlin and Vienna summits and to construct a more permanent Forum for civil society to cooperate and develop a dialogue with political leaders and governments.

Heading towards the Western Balkans Paris Summit in July 2016, the Civil Society Forum aims to establish a sustainable and relevant second-track process as a common WB-EU platform dedicated to the challenges in the Western Balkans, but first and foremost to European cohesion, which has to be co-shaped by the civil society, policy community, media and other relevant stakeholders.

The May meetings will be focused on the broader issue of civil society participation in agenda setting, in making and debating policy proposals and in evaluating policy results, and on formulating key messages concerning the topics of the Paris Summit, such as:

  1. Youth cooperation
  2. Migration crisis
  3. Solving of bilateral disputes and
  4. Environment/climate change agenda in the region and Europe.

These key topics will be discussed in a form of panel discussions and focused thematic workshops, having over 150 participants, representatives of think tanks, policy institutes and other NGOs from the countries of the Western Balkans as well as high EU officials and MEPs, diplomats, members of regional and international organisations and foundations, local and regional media.

The conclusions of this forum will serve as a basis for formulating a set of messages that will be communicated at the Western Balkans Paris Summit.