The Civil Society High-Level Conference focused on Youth policies in the Western Balkans took place on the 16th of September in Prague. The focal point of the Conference were the challenges and difficulties that young people face nowdays across the Western Balkans.
A youth policy in the Western Balkans, as part of the Innovation Agenda for the Western Balkans, will contribute to promoting scientific excellence, reforming educational systems in the region, creating additional opportunities for young people and also helping to prevent brain drain. With increased investments in research, education, culture, youth and sports, the Agenda and the actions proposed in it represent an essential element for the future economic and social development of the region and Europe.
The President of the EESC, Ms Krista Schweng, in her opening address emphasized that the common goal is to build a better future for the Western Balkans, whose voice should be heard.
The main topics on the agenda of the Conference were:
- The European path for the Western Balkans: Roadmap towards clear accession perspective and the role of young people
- The contribution of civil society to youth policy in the Western Balkans: challenges and opportunities in building a better future for the Western Balkans and amplifying the voice of young people from the Western Balkans
- Human capital development in the Western Balkans
- Youth employment challenges in the Western Balkans
- Young people in the Western Balkans as an important force in regional cooperation and promoting European integration
The European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, said that there is no future without young people. Since the European Year of Youth is being celebrated this year, many programs dedicated to young people will show how modern economies and inclusive societies can be built, where young people will have the opportunity to develop, communicate and actively participate in creating a better region.
The Conference will complement the work that the EESC is already undertaking by organizing the Forum, which gathers civil society organizations (CSOs) of the Western Balkans, and which has been organized every other year since 2006. The participants will adopt conclusions that will be addressed to national authorities and European institutions.
Members of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), representatives of civil society organizations from the countries of the Western Balkans, as well as Czech officials participated in this great event. The Serbian Association of Employers (SAE) was represented by the General Secretary of SAE, Mr Boško Savković, who was also one of the panelists on the topic of Human Capital Development in Western Balakns.