ALPBACH – RYCO Secretary General Mr Đuro Blanuša attended this year’s edition of the European Forum Alpbach where he discussed the regional cooperation through a prism of the European integration of the Western Balkans. The panel discussion “EU Enlargement – Quo Vadis?” supported by German Cooperation took place on Monday, 31 August.
Mr Blanuša said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is having a considerable impact on the way how the youth cooperation activities are taking place since the majority of mobility programs are currently being suspended. On the other hand, he underlined that the crisis is also an opportunity for enhancing cooperation and called on the Western Balkan governments to join their efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
He also presented the RYCO ongoing programs and underlined the fact that the fourth RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals, supported by the European Union, was launched aiming to offer additional support for the regional youth cooperation in times of the pandemic.
The central questions of the panel discussion were focused on current challenges the Western Balkans face and the role of the EU’s as a global player in this area. It also addressed how the EU’s enlargement policy in the Western Balkans is perceived as leverage by the panelists and the Alpbach youth community connected remotely.
RYCO Secretary General said that the EU enlargement policy needs to regain its leverage and highlighted that it has to be done first of all through more effective implementation of the needed reforms by the Western Balkan governments and secondly, on the side of the EU, through restoring the trust and credibility of the enlargement process.
Moreover, the EU institutions should rethink the way how the enlargement process is being communicated towards the youth of the region since they have been understanding the process too bureaucratic. This should be done in cooperation with the region’s youth but also the six governments, civil society, media and other relevant actors, Mr Blanuša concluded.
The panel discussion was also attended by Regional Cooperation Council Secretary General Ms Majlinda Bregu, CEFTA Secretariat Director Mr Emir Đikić, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Austria Mr Martin Selmayr, Austrian Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution Ms Karoline Edtstadler and moderated by Der Standard Correspondent South Eastern Europe Ms Adelheid Wölfl.
The European Forum Alpbach is an interdisciplinary platform for science, politics, business and culture. Established in 1945, the annual European Forum Alpbach and our events throughout the year address the relevant socio-political questions of our time.
Photo: European Forum Albach / Flickr © EFA / Luiza Puiu