Joint Statement:  Civil Society and Think Tank Forum 2023

Amidst a pivotal juncture characterized by significant shifts in global politics, transnational challenges, and intricate regional dynamics, bringing the Berlin Process to Tirana signifies a momentous milestone. This year’s Summit highlights the ownership demonstrated by Western Balkan countries in their commitment to reforms, progress in their EU membership path, and enhanced cooperation in the region.

Recognizing these challenges as well as existing efforts, the Civil Society and Think Tank Forum (CSF) 2023 aims to enhance regional and EU efforts to unlock progress towards the European future of the Western Balkans.

In the context of renewed enthusiasm for enlargement, CSF 2023 calls for a more streamlined and transparent process for countries aspiring to join the EU. This includes a strong focus on upholding the rule of law, involving civil society, and implementing effective governance reforms.      

CSF 2023 encourages closer collaboration between the EU and Western Balkan countries to address security challenges, enhance stability, and promote reconciliation in the region. CSF 2023 supports efforts to tackle energy poverty, prioritizing decarbonization and clean energy transition, and ensuring accountable governance in EU enlargement and energy policy contexts.

In pursuit of global sustainability goals, CSF advocates for increased financial support to WB6, capacity building for local institutions, impactful regional cooperation, and alignment with EU policies on sustainability, climate action, and environmental preservation. Addressing modern-age digital challenges, CSF calls for a coordinated EU-Western Balkans approach to implementing reforms and prioritizing online user safety. Considering youth emigration, stronger cooperation between Western Balkan governments and the EU is encouraged to promote socio-economic development at home.

Prioritizing economic development, CSF calls for a clear EU integration plan, centered on the rule of law and economic reforms, with increased and better structured EU support, active stakeholder participation, and a commitment to implementing EU rules and towards effective regional Common Regional Market and further progress towards the Single Market.

Civil society remains a pivotal force in the reform processes within the Western Balkans, bringing together key stakeholders, reaffirming and amplifying the Process's mission to enhance regional cooperation in the Western Balkans, and enriching its objectives by deliberating on critical regional questions, and diligently crafting key recommendations for policymakers.

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