Specialist Meeting on IPA CBC among WB countries
During the past four years, all beneficiary countries of the Western Balkans and all EU actors involved in the process established close relations of trust and commitment to the common goal, as well as regular communication and coordination through a number of regional CBC forums and meetings. These served as opportunities for exchanging views and experiences, and agreeing on a regionally harmonised approach that helped move all the countries at the same pace through the intricacies of IPA CBC.
In order to acknowledge the positive outcomes of these regional efforts, to take stock of the milestones and achievements reached in the period 2007-2010, as well as to discuss future prospects for cross-border cooperation in the region, the European Commission decided to organise a Specialist Meeting on IPA CBC between Western Balkan countries that took place in Brussels, on 7 December 2010. This event was co-organised by the EC and CBIB and was an integral part of the 2010 Annual IPA Conference that was held on 6 December 2010.
The specialist meeting gave the opportunity to:
- consider achievements and challenges of cross-border cooperation at ‘intra’ Western Balkan borders;
- debate the added value of IPA CBC for the EU integration of the Region;
- assess how joint activities under IPA CBC contribute to reconciliation in the Region as well as to fostering cross-border communities in the Western Balkans;
- discuss the next steps an future prospects for IPA CBC in the Western Balkans, including a workshop on lessons learned and the first exchange of views on the process post 2013.
Participants and Event Flow
The specialist meeting was a high level international forum that gathered over 200 participants from the Western Balkan beneficiary countries, representatives from EU Member States and EU institutions, as well as Commission’s services.
The event was opened by Mr. Gerhard Schumann-Hitzler, Director in the DG Enlargement. The first part of the morning session was chaired and moderated by Mr. Pierre Mirel, Director in the DG Enlargement, who engaged the representatives of WB countries in a debate on the achievements and challenges of IPA CBC so far.
The second part of the morning session started with a projection of the video developed and produced by CBIB illustrating joint efforts and the success of cross-border cooperation in the Western Balkans, complemented by a presentation of Mrs. Natasa Gospodjinacki, CBIB Team Leader, on how CBC connects Western Balkans. This was followed by presentations from two grant beneficiaries who were awarded projects under the first Calls for Proposals.
The morning session was concluded by addresses of Ms. Diana Wallis, vice-president of the European Parliament, who spoke about the impact of CBC on citizens and local democracy, Mr. Eduard Kukan, Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, who highlighted political implications of CBC programmes, and Mr. Luc Van Den Brande, Chairman of Committee of Regions’ CIVEX Commission, who spoke about strengthening regional cooperation and fostering CBC communities in the Western Balkans.
The afternoon part of the meeting was structured as a workshop on the way forward, where participants had the opportunity to exchange views on the implementation and revision of programmes for the period 2011-2013 and the future of cross-border cooperation after 2013.
The meeting demonstrated the success of IPA CBC in the Western Balkans and the commitment of all actors involved.