There is a common opinion that neither in the Western Balkans nor in the EU institutions and Member States sufficient efforts has been invested in increasing knowledge about each other, improving mutual perceptions, and facilitating adoption of EU values, norms, policies and standards to the benefit of citizens and the enlargement process.
A diagnosis was repeated in the two important documents related to the EU enlargement towards the Western Balkans. Better communication was identified as one of the key leverages of the accession process in the European Commission proposal for “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans”, on 6 February 2018, and the Zagreb Declaration on 6 May 2020 stressed that the EU once again reaffirmed its unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans partners who from their side reiterated their firm commitment to the European perspective as their strategic choice: “the credibility of this commitment depends also on clear public communication and the implementation of the necessary reforms.”
In addition to indispensable government communication strategies in the accession countries there is a lot of work which the civil society organizations, individual experts and in particular media need to do. In the ideal circumstances, with a clear political and social consensus on the European perspective, the synchronized efforts of these actors would be the most effective. Otherwise, each one can contribute by different approaches and activities in building or enforcing the social consensus on this strategic choice of the society.
In this respect, wide-ranging debates are crucial. A plenty of papers, analysis, handbooks, guides, infographics etc. are not enough without direct communication and exchange of opinions whenever and wherever it is possible.
Discussion, clarification and answering questions after sharing basic or more specific information on different EU policies, priorities, institutions or sectors of operation are crucial for better understanding of the main task ahead of our societies. That is why the European Movement of Serbia with support of the EU Info Center starts the EU Talks series in 2020 aiming to support strengthening valuable communication with citizens to help them to assess and make their own choices regarding the European perspective of Serbia.
Project goal is to raise awareness and knowledge of citizens on the selected aspects of the EU integration process of particular interest for the citizens in 5 regions in Serbia.
- Project proposes organization of series of debates across Serbia in university centers on the topics of significance to European integration of Serbia at the moment.
- There will be 5 online debates virtually set in Subotica, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Niš, Novi Pazar/Kraljevo, with speakers from these regions/cities.
- The debates will tend to focus on the topics that are of interest to the citizens of the region where the debate virtually take place. The speakers’ list will seek to combine experts in the topic, practitioners working in the area as well as speakers from the region/town in question.
Duration: August – December 2020