Political Committee “Europe in the World”
In order to update EMI Policy Position on Enlargement, well in advance of the annual Progress Reports that will be presented by the European Commission in the autumn, European Movement int has sent us a questionnaire with a couple of stimulating questions regarding our enlargement-views. This process is also a follow-up to the EMI Belgrade Congress held in February 2016 and is connected to EMI’s work ahead of the Civil Society Forum in the framework of the Berlin process (intergovernmental process on topics not treated by the enlargement negotiations with the Balkan countries to the EU; Paris, July 2016). The questions asked and our answers were as follows:
Montenegro (negotiations ongoing): …should become a member as soon as possible without having to wait five years. ……………………………………………….
Serbia (negotiations ongoing): … should become a member as soon as possible without having to wait five years. ……………………………………………….……………………………………………….
Turkey (negotiations ongoing): …Ongoing negotiations should be more rapid. Chapters 23 and 24 should never have been blocked. I f they had been opened 10 years ago instead of those of an economic character we would be facing a different Turkey to-day……………………………………………….
Albania (negotiations yet to be opened): negotiations should be opened
FYR of Macedonia (negotiations yet to be opened): negotiations should be opened.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (potential candidate): should become a member as soon as possible without having to wait five years.
Kosovo (potential candidate): negotiations should be started
2. What mechanisms should be applied or fostered to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation among CSOs in the WBT (Western Balkans and Turkey) cooperation? 1. The procedures of Civil Society Facility Programme of Western Balkans can be simplified as it is the case in Turkey. “Sivil Düşün” model can be applied in the region at large 2.The system has to force civil society organisations to come up with new ideas to generate fruitful cooperation and not only to organize standard trainings and workshops. 3. EU’s Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organizations (TACSO) has relatively worked well. And its working model can be duplicated in each targeted countries through local ownerships after the project ends 4. In addition to promote bilateral and multilateral promotion of CSOs in WB and Turkey, the mechanisms related to civil society-public sector should be enforced. 5. More flexible and less hierarchical structures should exist, especially among youth organizations. 6.New mechanisms should be developed to facilitate regional cooperation.
3. What are the difficulties civil society faces when it comes to providing real input for the negotiation process? The problem is common to almost all applicants and some member countries. 1. Learning about the decisions taken takes place only after these decisions have been made. 2. Representatives of civil society are not part of the decision making process. It is hard for CSOs to get heard by governments. They do not participate in any of the official meetings 3. Consultative meetings held by these representatives end up with conclusions listed in a short resume which is usually not taken into consideration by the decision makers 4. These organizations need to develop their knowledge about the details involved in the chapters discussed or to be discussed.
4. What are the dangers and problems you currently identify in the Western Balkans, which (could) negatively affect the enlargement process? 1. The EU is presently engulfed in political, economic and social crises which have led to a larger distrust of EU members and applicants vis a vis EU institutions (the Parliament as well as the Commission). 2. Conflicts between neighbor countries as well domestic problems within these applicants slow down their progress in abiding to the EU values and to the acquis 3. Rise of right wing ultra nationalist parties, governments becoming more protection oriented, more totalitarian and conservative hampers regionalization and internationalization endangers enlargement.
5. What currently jeopardizes / can potentially jeopardize the enlargement process, both from the EU and WBT front? I. External shocks could jeopardize this process. The world economy is not faring well and an external shock such as that could cause the EU members to face difficulties which would have its impact on applicant countries too. II. Internal shock: A Brexit followed by other countries could lead to lower trust in the EU with the result that applicant countries and member countries would prefer to slow down even more the enlargement process.
6. How could (potential) candidate countries be included in a sustainable European solution to the migrant and refugee crisis? This is a problem which the EU will not be able to solve on its own. 1. On Foreign policy issues the EU is not capable of producing a union level response to which all members would subscribe. The EU cannot formulate constructive policies. 2. The rise of extreme right wing parties backed up by ultra nationalist civil society organizations will also hamper the possibility of finding such a sustainable solution. This is quite unfortunate but we think it reflects the reality. 3. But in spite of this, civil society organizations could and should play a role in helping migrants who have reached their countries by ensuring their safety and their rights. 4. Those applicant and member countries mostly affected by this crisis should be monitored and helped. 5. Migrant and refugee rights promoting NGOs should be supported to form linkages with one another.
7. Where should the EU stand in the enlargement narrative in face of the crises it is struggling with? Nothing is sure for the upcoming two years. No prospects of further enlargement can exist under these conditions. Yet this does not mean that nothing should be done. 1. The EU should go beyond acquis conditionality by being more proactive in dealing with the domestic problems in applicant countries. 2. Discontent about good governance which is also a problem in some member countries should be addressed. 3. The EU should also be more informative about what is expected when negotiating different chapters. Organize meetings with related CSOs and discuss with them what will be faced in their country, what has been faced in member countries so that there will not be any after shocks during their applications. 4. Pre-accession policies should be improved so that there will be no discrepancies between implementing EU rules which are uniform for all and what is in application in the various sectors of the applicants. This would help anticipate and solve the problems that might arise if there is any important mismatches. 5. Control of preaccesion funds is another issue. 6. Finally given that EU is the only plausible peace solution in the current state affairs, it should create a positive enlargement narrative right away and impose sanctions on countries which actually do hurt this positive narrative. The rhetoric in countries such as Hungary and Serbia should especially be changed.
8. What impact do you think the next enlargement will have on:
The (potential) candidate countries: 1. it will force them to have better entente with one another, be more democratic, more respectful of human rights& freedom of the press. 2. The EU is still the only regional organization that carries a promise for peace and stability. Its effect on candidate countries is normative.
The current EU Member States 1. Since these members have small economies the impact of their economic integration on member countries will not be detrimental. They will be easily absorbed. 2. But addressing the needs of the looser of this economic integration will also be an important policy issue. The political disorders which may then ensue among members will be more difficult to solve by the EU. 4. Backsliding in the application of fundamental values if any will be difficult to control as it has already been see in some member countries. EU member states should stop thinking short term and go back to the European value system where prevalence and strength of democracy goes unquestioned and is promoted.
9. How could the momentum for the enlargement process be regained? (remarks are welcome both with regard to the EU and the WBT) How to make Europe a project worth fighting for? Difficult in these times but still possible. In the WBT: 1. The EU should work hand in hand with CSOs irrespective of their political allegiance and help them organize meetings with university students, high school students even primary school students. 2. Young people of applicant countries should get to meet young pro European young people from member countries. In the EU 1. The EU should be reminded that long-term thinking and policies are its defining characteristics, characteristics which distinguishes it from other organizations. 2. Pro European CSOs should be more active. Should develop branches in all their regions. Should not work like CSOs for retired people and should enroll more young people.
10. In the Serbian Congress report, especially in the part on Word Café conclusions, you can see a wish list of Balkan CSOs. Is there anything else you would identify as the urgent needs of Civil Society Organisations in the context of the enlargement process? Get more interaction between CSOs , find the financial means to get them together, otherwise what as accomplished in World Cafe was great.