Press Release, 14 July, Bratislava 

On 13th July, GLOBSEC and the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE) organized a by-invitation discussion on the future of the EU-Western Balkan relations, which also symbolized the launch of the Western Balkans Political and Economic Task Force.  

GLOBSEC and the BFPE have joined forces to establish a platform for connecting EU, national decision-makers, and experts from the EU and Western Balkans in order to hold an ongoing dialogue and develop agile solutions to reflect and accommodate the rising challenges the region has been faced with. 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to define global affairs in 2020, with the uncertainty about our common future and the rising challenges, both globally and regionally, dominating policy making agendas. In the Western Balkans, pandemic has highlighted the economic challenges the region is facing in addition to the uncertain path towards EU accession. 

 Furthermore, 2020 is seen as a defining year for the state of democracy in the Western Balkans. Elections have been or will be held in every country in the region, which will be a good chance to examine whether the democratic backsliding is to remain the reality in the area. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, democratic values and freedoms have been put aside in favour of security and safety. The question is whether the rule of law restrictions and low level of respect for democratic values were characteristic of the pandemic, or has it become the new normal for the region? 

The participants of the launching event exchanged their views and ideas on the current development in the region. Western Balkans Economic and Political Task Force initiated by the two organisations will provide a long-term platform to address the most pressing issuesand to discuss the further steps that need to be taken with regard to current and future developments in the Western Balkans and its relation to the EU and its neighbourhood.