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EU Accession & Role of Interest Groups

Roundtable Discussion – May 4th 2011

IDM Center for European & Security Affairs (CESA) with the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES, Tirana) and the OSI Think Tank Fund (Budapest) organized a Roundtable Debate “EU Accession and the role of interest groups”, on the 4th of May 2011 at Hotel Rogner EUROPAPARK (Tirana). The event gathered approximately 70 representatives of public, civic and private stakeholders in an open debate on the perceptions, experiences, potential role of interest groups in Albania’s EU accession as well as the instruments and processes that need to be carried out in order to enable them to generate real added value to the process of EU integration.

Roundtable’s participants were presented with the findings of a survey conducted by CESA in February – March 2011 with 75 interest groups (business associations, labor unions, consumer organizations, big and medium-size businesses, professional associations, media, think tanks, academia, public sector interest groups such as associations of local government units, association of prosecutors etc) exploring their experience and thinking as regards the involvement of these societal actors in the EU integration process.

The importance of this event and the valuable information generated through the findings of the report presented by CESA’s Director Mr. Gjergji Vurmo, were highlighted by H.E. Sandor Molnari – Ambassador of Hungary in Tirana, the country holding the EU Presidency (January – June 2011). The role of interest groups, as a societal actor that is impacted and may generate capacities for the EU accession process was particularly emphasized by Ambassador Molnari as a crucial element for the quality and pace of the process. The German Ambassador in Albania, H.E. Carola Müller- Holtkemper held the same view in the opening panel of the event while highlighting also the importance of the political criteria. IDM Executive, Mr. Sotiraq Hroni focused particularly on the instruments and structures that would encourage greater involvement of interest groups in the EU accession and the priorities identified in the survey by respondents in the context of EU accession.

Commentaries and critical analysis on the role and potential impact of interest groups under EU accession were presented to the audience by three key speakers: Mrs. Menada Zaimi (TV KLAN, Mr. Gjergj Buxhuku (KONFINDUTRIA), and Mr. Gjergji Filipi (Agenda Institute).