The stability of the Western Balkans is crucial for the European Union and municipalities are a crucial battleground for the democratic forces. That’s why Renew Europe CoR has partnered with FNF Europe’s three year-long project where local politicians from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia cooperate on concrete projects
FNF Europe will work to strengthen the network of liberal politicians in the region, connecting them across borders through projects, fostering regional participation and cooperation. Renew Europe CoR will assist FNF Europe in this process as this forms an opportunity to increase the presence and enhance the local liberal network, for instance by identifying liberal European cities and regions with best practices in the topics discussed, involve their administrations in these cooperations and co-organise study visits to the constituency of these members, drawing lessons from the projects and launching similar initiatives with other countries in the Western Balkans.
Jasna Gabrič, First Vice-President of Renew Europe CoR and co-chair of the CoR’s Joint Consultative Committee North Macedonia, who has recently been raising alarm bells about the falling support for EU membership in the Western Balkans, welcomes this new cooperation tool. It might serve as a blueprint to also foster new European engagement as Gabrič has previously warned that the European perspective gave people in the region hope for decades, but as she has said: “hope doesn’t last forever. Places within Europe which feel left behind are faced with disengagement and discontent in the long term. When the development trap is unaddressed, disengagement and discontent make citizens less likely to support European integration and values. Can you imagine what it does to those that have been stuck for decades in the accession limbo?” She called for more work at the sub-national level, with technical support for local and regional administrations similar to what FNF is now working on, to “allow us to help our partner cities and regions to build their capacities”.
Renew Europe CoR is also stepping up its collaboration with regional partners, recently welcoming to the European Committee of the Regions, Roman Jakic, the Chair of the Liberal South East European Network (LIBSEEN) to discuss opportunities to work together on capacity building at local level supporting liberal mayors and local councillors in the region.