Poznan Western Balkans Summit 2019

From 3rd to 5th of July the city of Poznan hosted the next-in-line summit of the Berlin Process and has gathered an impressive number of participants and experts to discuss regional cooperation and the integration path of Western Balkan countries to the European Union.

The event kicked off with a Think-Thank Forum on the first day, with three panels mapping three main discussion points which were connectivity, challenges to the rule of law and social welfare state and lastly, the current most imminent problems in the region, with the rise of ethno-nationalism and backsliding of democratic principles. Experts contributed with various research reports and findings on said topics.

The days that followed were devoted to Civil Society and Business Fora, as well as high-level meetings between government officials from the Western Balkans and EU member states. Other than topics of economic development and need for improved infrastructural connectivity, the summit featured new topics such as a more pronounced focus on environmental topics and culture.

Berlin Process Summits have been instated as a complementary addition to the Enlargement Process for the Western Balkans, and therefore it has inevitably proved its importance as an opportunity to express both concerns and ideas between the EU and the Western Balkan countries. The presence of civil society and business representatives gave an additional perspective to the potential developments in the region, on all levels – from national level and increase in local ownership, all the way to the European Union as a whole. The Poznan Summit continued on the important track of addressing the accession path of these countries to the European Union, however opinions remain divided and it is yet to be seen how many tangible projects and outcomes.

Yet, the popular support for the European Union, at least among the youth, remains high in the Western Balkans, as per the findings of our region-wide research, mostly because EU is still perceived as a solution to a lot of challenges, socioeconomic precariousness being the most prominent one.

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