Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are a cornerstone of the EU integration process and the strategic goal of the Western Balkans countries (WB) is to integrate in the European Union. Therefore, the Berlin process, initiated in 2014, can significantly contribute to strengthening EU-related reforms in those fields. In that light, the Berlin process can be considered advantageous for the countries of the WB as it focuses on building concrete mechanisms for regional cooperation, connectivity and improving bilateral relations. Since the WB countries are at different stages of the integration process, the Berlin process serves for bridging the waiting time-lapse to the membership through deepening regional cooperation in specific fields. In order to produce wide societal acceptance of the process and reforms undertaken through this Process, it is of utmost importance to create monitoring mechanisms and devise a structural approach for inclusion of civil society organisations. Without having in place mechanisms through which the Western Balkans civil society sector will closely monitor regional governments in their implementation efforts of the commitments made in the Berlin process, the Process will face difficulties in ensuring sustainability; and subsequently not producing the effects envisaged when the whole process started.

The project overall objective is to contribute to the strengthening of the cooperation and policy-making among the CSOs in the countries of the WB in the context of the Berlin process.

The specific objectives are:

  1. Advocate for structural inclusion of CSOs from the Western Balkans in the Berlin Process;
  2. Assess the implications of Brexit and the role of the post-Brexit UK in the future of the Berlin Process;
  3. Evaluate the implementation of the commitments made by the parties involved in the Berlin Process, that is, inclusion of civil society organisations, resolution of bilateral disputes, youth cooperation, rule of law and fight against corruption and connectivity agenda.

Key target audiences of the project involve: CSOs from the WB that are focused on EU-integration process and regional cooperation; Southeast European regional organizations; governments of the WB countries as well as governments of EU member-states involved in the Berlin Process; EU institutions dealing with enlargement policy and with enlargement countries in the areas covered by the Berlin Process.

The project results are designed to impact policy and decision-makers in the WB in order to achieve greater and more structured regional cooperation. This would be done primarily by the establishment of a network aiming to produce significant policy inputs to relevant policy and decision makers involved in the Berlin Process before and after 2018 UK presidency with the Berlin process.

Project partners: Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” – Skopje and Open Society Foundation for Albania – EU Policy Hub

Project duration: January – December 2018

The project is supported by the European Fund for the Balkans (Think and Link – Regional Policy Programme 2018).