On 12 February 2015 the European Commission’s DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), in collaboration with the European Institute, organised a policy forum The Role of the European Union in the Western Balkans: Perspectives on the Enlargement Process. The event took place at the Europe House in Sofia. DG NEAR, in cooperation with partner organizations, held the event as part of an information campaign, addressing key stakeholders from the Balkans about the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA), the new financial framework (IPA II) and the successful implementation of some selected projects in the Western Balkans.
The first session focused on the role of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) in the Balkans, while the second part deepened the Bulgarian perspective on co-operation. Key speakers at the first session included Mr. Henk Visser, DG NEAR; Mr. Eric Vincken, representing the consortium GIZ and Center for International Legal Cooperation, implementing the Regional Prosecutors Network project and Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy, presenting the main findings and impact of the SELDI anti-corruption initiative. The participants provided a comprehensive overview of the work and the benefits that IPA provides to the West Balkans in particular, and the EU as a whole.
The second session featured mainly representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, including Mr. Vladimir Shopov, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Bulgaria and Dr. Atanas Slavov, Advisor to the Minister of Justice, Republic of Bulgaria. Ms. Maria Prohaska, Director of Centеr for Economic Development also shared her perspective of the Bulgarian cooperation in the framework of the EU assistance programmes.
The event attracted high-level participants, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Daniel Mitov, Ambassadors of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania, as well as relevant civil society organizations. The Bulgarian authorities demonstrated their support for the EU enlargement process and confirmed their engagement for tackling the EU’s key concerns, notably with relation to corruption.