Social Democrats meet in Sarajevo: citizens’ benefits to be at the heart of the EU integration

eu and western balkans flags

Five S&D MEPs, namely vice-president Tanja Fajon, foreign affairs spokesperson Knut Fleckenstein, S&D shadow rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina Demetris Papadakis, MEP and president of the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity Jens Nilsson, as well as PES president Sergei Stanishev, will be participating in a series of meetings on the Western Balkans that will be taking place in Sarajevo on 17 and 18 November.

In this context, the MEPs will meet with fellow parliamentarians and exchange views with sister party leaders* who will be participating at the Regional Summit organised by the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Knut Fleckenstein, S&D spokesperson for foreign affairs, stated:

“This is a timely gathering that will provide the opportunity to discuss the political situation in the Western Balkans countries and the European integration of the region. Bulgaria followed by Austria will be taking over the Presidency of the EU Council in 2018 and the European integration of the region stands a good chance of being back on the EU agenda. We have to unite efforts with our Western Balkans partners to bring forward the necessary progressive reforms, achieve social and economic progress, and explain better to our citizens the benefits of EU enlargement.

“For the S&D Group it is clear that the enlargement process represents a strategic investment in peace, democracy, prosperity, security and stability in Europe as a whole. However, we need to see concrete progress and make the reform process in the Western Balkans countries irreversible. This is not only important for the Western Balkans citizens, but it also helps us explain to our own citizens back home why EU enlargement matters.

“We need some concrete steps that benefit all citizens. For example, a recent tangible result of the European integration process has been the end of roaming charges within the European Union, since 15 June 2017. The S&D Group intends to promote the inclusion of the Western Balkans countries in the ‘roam like home’ policy and I will also propose this in the framework of the Sarajevo Summit.”   

* Among others, present in Sarajevo will be the following: Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister (FYR of Macedonia), Nermin Niksic, President of the Social Democratic Party (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Dragan Šutanovac, President of the Democratic Party (Serbia).