Empowering rural stakeholders in the Western Balkans
Rural topic(s): Development of rural territories
Date of publication: October 1, 2014
This report, and the events recorded in it, focus upon seven countries which are at various stages of active or potential candidature to join the European Union. Six of the countries are in the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The seventh country is Turkey.
These countries are reforming their governmental systems to align them with the standards and policies of the European Union. To help in this process, the EU offers support through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). Part of that Instrument is focused on rural development, including the potential to use the LEADER approach, which operates successfully throughout the EU.
The central concept behind the events described here is that effective rural development will depend upon action by both governments and rural stakeholders. It is vital that the two sides work closely together; that governments involve rural stakeholders in shaping and implementing policy; and that rural stakeholders are empowered to take initiatives which benefit rural communities.
In order to stimulate the thinking of governments and rural stakeholders, a simultaneous series of six traveling workshops and a concluding conference in Brussels were organised in 2014.
Nearly 100 people from all levels of responsibilities, including local initiatives and municipalities, regional administrations, national ministries and European Institutions participated in them.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.