WB Youth Lab supported dialogue between Members of Parliament and civil society from the Western Balkans in Brussels

Participants of the

Participants of the "Bridging the Gap" initiative in Brussels, 25-27 April 2023

Ognjen Markovic, Team Leader of the RCC’s Western Balkans Youth Lab addressing the panel

Ognjen Markovic, Team Leader of the RCC’s Western Balkans Youth Lab addressing the panel

From 25 to 27 April 2023, the Bridging the Gap initiative promoted dialogue between civil society and elected representatives from the region and from the European Union. The event was co-organized by the European Parliament's Mediation and Dialogue Support Unit and the European Commission's Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations together with the Regional Cooperation Council's (RCC) Western Balkans Youth Lab (WBYL) project.

The 2023 Bridging the gap brought together 19 Members of Parliament, 20 representatives of civil society organisations and three YPL alumni from the Western Balkans for a three-day event that allowed them to exchange in a climate of dialogue, commitment and cooperation. They debated with Members of the European Parliament, among which DEG Lead Members for the Western Balkans Vladimir Bilčík and Matjaž Nemec, staff of the European Institutions and representatives of the European civil society. These sessions addressed matters of the role of youth in the EU integration process, green agenda and digital transition and disinformation and regional cooperation. The participants stressed the important role that youth has to shape the region's future and the necessity to ensure that youth's voice is properly heard in the policy-making system.

The Members of Parliament had the opportunity of observing the functioning of the European Parliament's Committees and of discussing it with DEG's Lead Member of the Young Political Leaders programme, Fabio Massimo Castaldo. They attended several exchanges, such as the ones that parliamentarians had with Commissioner Nicolas Schmit on the European Year of Skills; and with Director-General for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Gert Jan Koopman.

WBYL supported participation of 20 young people from the region at this event and ensured participation of representatives of national youth councils at the high-level panel discussions, so as to ensure that voices of youth are being heard.

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Western Balkans Youth Lab is a EU-funded and RCC-mplemented project that kicked-off in January 2020.