Protests of hauliers and farmers in Jan 2024: Societal resilience vs elite ineffectiveness
On January 10th, 2024, Romanian farmers and hauliers engaged in a nationwide protest against the government’s transport and agricultural policies, briefly blocking traffic at border crossings and several cities, including the frontier with Ukraine and the capital’s ring road.
Responding to the demands of the market the relevant institutions throughout the region should develop fast-track programmes advancing the needed skills from youth and enabling further professional development.
Regional development initiatives must be specifically designed to target youth in need and guarantee that their views and interests are equally represented.
National institutions should ensure youth participation when designing policies.
Regional organisations should collect information on existing youth projects (e.g. the Regional Youth Cooperation Office and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights) and relevant funding possibilities to better disseminate the available information to a broader audience within the EU and across the Western Balkan region. These organisations should also act as contact points for interested audiences.
Fostering reconciliation, dismantling old animosities, and establishing trust by providing exchange possibilities, needs to be further promoted. The ERASMUS Programme should fully include all Western Balkan countries, hence changing the status to programme countries for all.
The focus of the Interreg-IPA Cross-border Cooperation Programme Hungary-Serbia should move to areas that are of main importance for fulfilling the technical requirements for the EU accession process, such as the rule of law, and providing information on the main logic of democratic processes.
Assess the demographic challenge in a multi-stakeholder perspective and design policies that reflect political, economic and social complexity of the issue. Earlier policy solutions should be analysed critically and fairly.
Strengthen the rule of law. Strong democratic institutions with entrenched rule of law and legal certainty positively impact investments and economic development which, in return, incentivise people to remain, those who left to return, and new ones to come. Designing policies aimed at increasing birth rates without tackling broader negative political and economic trends, in particular corruption, will not reverse demographic decline.
Reflect on positive aspects of people’s mobility and on best practices elsewhere.
Show positive examples of immigration in Croatia and successful stories of integration. Discuss challenges of integration both for the local population and immigrants. Deconstruct fear.
To reach desired objectives, the European Union should more closely involve and consult environmental civil society organisations from the Western Balkans and the local population, on all matters related to the Green Agenda, which includes timely and transparent sharing of information in line with the Aarhus Convention.
The European Union should extend the Green Agenda Action Plan to delineate clear responsibilities of all relevant actors in the region, set clear time-frames and targets as well as precise rights and responsibilities of civil society organisations in the consultation process.
It should impose stricter control over governmental action of the Western Balkans to reach the objectives of the Green Agenda and establish a sound monitoring system that will also include the civil society organisations and extend monitoring financing in line with coordinated and participatory bottom-up financing schemes.
Including a gender perspective in employment policies.
Introducing comprehensive programmes and measures to support the employment of vulnerable categories of women as well as empowering women by improving the career guidance system and developing mentoring programmes.
Improving the system of employment protection and preventing discrimination.
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