The European Commission and the OSCE launched a project which will focus on aiding the democratic process in a number of Balkan countries.
The project is launched in order to further the integrity of democratic elections in the countries involved – an area that have been criticized in the past.
A region in democratic crisis
The BiEPAG (Balkan in Europe Policy Advisory Group) have stated recently that “the state of democracy and freedom has been backsliding or stagnating in the countries of the Western Balkans over the past decade. There is no single turning point for the entire region, but the downward spiral began a decade ago, and accelerated with the economic crisis in 2008 and multiple crises within the EU that distracted the Union from enlargement.”
BiEPAG, a joint initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans and the Centre for Southeast European Studies of the University of Graz, released a report earlier this year detailing what they refer to as the “crisis of the democratic process”
It is exactly this crisis the project hope to approach. With a budget of 1.6 Million euro, largely sponsored by the EU, the project aims to assist in paving the way for a membership path into the Union for these countries.
The road to inclusion
“The agreement signed today demonstrates our strong commitment to help the Western Balkans on their path to EU accession”
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn
The project will be implemented over a three-year period and will and will support Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. The effort will focus on the implementation of a set of recommendations from a formal observation of the democratic elections in these countries.
The full statement from the EU can be found here