The Second EU-Western Balkans Youth Forum, hosted by the RCC, ends in Novi Sad

Second EU Balkan Youth Forum organized by RCC took place on 13-15 December 2023 (Photo: RCC/Nemanja Brankovic)

Second EU Balkan Youth Forum organized by RCC took place on 13-15 December 2023 (Photo: RCC/Nemanja Brankovic)

Participants of the EU Balkan Youth Forum which took place 13-15 December 2023 in Novi Sad (Photo: RCC/Nemanja Brankovic)

Participants of the EU Balkan Youth Forum which took place 13-15 December 2023 in Novi Sad (Photo: RCC/Nemanja Brankovic)

The second edition of the EU Balkan Youth Forum (EUBYF), organised by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) in cooperation and with funding of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, as well as RCC’s EU-funded WB Youth Lab project (WBYL), ended in Novi Sad today. The Forum gathered more than 30 young people from Western Balkans (WB) and European Union (EU).  
 
“I am pleased to say that this second edition of the Forum exceeded my expectations. Young people we gathered here for the past 3 days have thought freely and boldly about the future of regional integration, environmental protection and human capital development. The conclusions they came up with and presented to us today show political and economic maturity of these youngsters. It is encouraging for me, for all of us. As these young people are our future,” said Amer Kapetanović, Head of the RCC’s Political Department, addressing the Forum.  He added that most regional policies implemented and facilitated by the RCC have always young people in mind. In that context, Mr Kapetanovic reminded about the RCC-facilitated regional successes which will contribute to increasing the quality of life for young people, such as Roaming Free Western Balkans and reduction of roaming charges between the WB and EU, as well as the four mobility agreements the leaders of the region signed, which will enable free flow of work force, professionals, students and people in general. 

The three-day Forum empowered participants to understand the dynamics of the Common Regional Market (CRM), environmental protection, and human skills promotion. Through workshops and discussions, attendees gained the tools and knowledge to impact their communities and raise awareness about opportunities in an enlarged Europe. The conference conclude with EU-Western Balkans young delegates drafting conclusions, which will serve as a foundation for further cooperation within and beyond the EUBYF network.  

“Young people are protagonists not of tomorrow, but of today.  A different approach should be applied toward boundaries - they should be more akin to gates that connect than to walls that separate,” said Mr Luca Gori, Ambassador of Italy to Serbia, who addressed the Forum on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He stressed the role the European Union plays in the economic life of Western Balkans, namely through trade and investment. In this sense, he reiterated the commitment of Italy and other EU Member States as well as the European Commission towards the Western Balkans through, among other things, the recently announced new Growth Plan. 

Besides Mr Kapetanovic and Mr Gori, keynote speech at the opening has been given by Ms Tanja Miščević, Minister for European Integration of Serbia. The first edition of the Forum was held in Rome in December 2021. 

Prioritising youth with proven commitment to local communities ensures the Forum facilitates meaningful partnerships between the EU and the Western Balkans to address identified needs and priorities. Conclusions of the Forum will be published on EUBYF and RCC websites in a few days. 

More information on the Forum