The renewed aspirations of EU enlargement has sparked a crucial debate about the future of the Western Balkans and its integration into the European Union. Whereas Montenegro has already opened 30 and Serbia 12 out of 35 negotiation chapters, Macedonia and Albania await their accession negotiations to commence. Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo hold the status of ‘potential candidates’.
While various different political and social issues are at stake in this enlargement process, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung EU Office has invited trade unions from the Western Balkans to put forward their insights regarding working conditions and labour standards to relevant EU stakeholders. These discussions have demonstrated that the priority of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans must be tied to a particular emphasis on social cohesion and quality of living. Ultimately, this dialogue programme has also underlined the necessity to include and increasingly embed civil society and trade unions in the EU accession process.