EU in the world
#TheFutureIsYours Reinforcing responsible global leadership
The European project is work in progress. It has been since the onset of the integration process. What makes it stand out is the fact it keeps reinventing itself in the face of new challenges. In that regard, 2021 is a case in point that Europe is at another crossroad, particularly as the global order is becoming more dynamic and complex, all while the citizens of Europe are faced with dilemmas how to address the issues such as the pandemic, hybrid threats, migration, and the phenomenon of fake news. Times of change may understandably generate some level of uneasiness, and even fear among some; yet, they also create opportunities not only to explore ways of deepening the cooperation in the existing fields but also to explore new heights. Considering such a context, the Conference on the Future of Europe (CotFoE) provides the citizens of Europe with a good opportunity to voice their concerns and to take proactive approach in shaping the decision-making process. The title of the initiative, EUROPE COMPLETE, was deliberately chosen to showcase that only united Europe, a continent comprised of countries sharing the common values, can properly address the ever-growing number of cross-border challenges. The EUROPE COMPLETE idea therefore goes beyond the European Union as it also envisions the Western Balkans as an essential piece of the European puzzle. Considering the interconnectedness between the EU and the Western Balkans, in terms of unprecedented levels of political, economic, and societal cooperation, it would not be an exaggeration to argue that they are even sharing the same destiny. Nevertheless, room for future joint endeavours is still to be filled in with concrete proposals on how to deepen and extend this cooperation. Considering that the discussions in the framework of the CotFoE are well under way, with prospects to end by summer of the next year, time is ripe for an open and critical deliberation, not on whether the Western Balkans can provide their contribution to the development of the European project, but how and to what extent. This conference is organised with a purpose to collect relevant and constructive input from the experts, mainly from the region’s civil society, on how best to engage the Western Balkans as part of the solution to the issues the entire European continent is faced with. With the idea to provide original contribution, the vision of the event is to shape the wider discussions at the CotFoE and thus set the stage for reforms of the European Union. By indicating that the Western Balkans can be a credible partner on whom the EU can rely both at the times of peace and crisis, this also has the potential to usher the path to discussions on how best to accelerate intra-European integration. The fact the event will be registered at the Portal of the CotFoE, the online and multilingual hub of the CotFoE, marks a step forward in erasing the divisions and distance between the EU and the Western Balkans.
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