GLOBSEC 2023: New EU’s Western Balkans initiative announced

GLOBSEC 2023: New EU’s Western Balkans initiative announced

“It is not enough to say that the door is open. We must also take responsibility to bring the aspiring members of our Union much closer to us,” the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at GLBOSEC’s 2023 Bratislava Forum, in an announcement of a new initiative for the Western Balkans.

“To a certain extent, this is a new approach for the European Union: We do not only ask our partners to take new steps towards us. We also take a big step towards them,” von der Leyen added.

As part of the “new growth plan for the Western Balkans”, four types of measures are envisaged: 1. bringing the region closer to the EU single market; 2. deepening regional economic integration; 3. accelerating fundamental reforms; and 4. boosting pre-accession funds.

“We want to build on the progress achieved in recent months. But we also want to bring some of the benefits of EU Membership to the people of Western Balkans already today,” said EC President.

The single market cooperation could lead the region to join the EU´s digital single market in areas such as e-commerce or cybersecurity and enhance the regional common market to attract European investors.

However, von der Leyen stressed that some reforms on the part of Western Balkan countries, such as in the judiciary, public procurement and the fight against corruption, will still need to be met in advance for the region to fully benefit from the fresh EU´s initiative.

“We stand ready to support Western Balkans with increased pre-accession funding. There is a dire need for investment in the Western Balkans. These investments will make people´s lives better. And they will also smooth the way into our Union,” said von der Leyen.

The 18th edition of GLOBSEC’s annual Bratislava Forum takes place from 29 – 31 May, attended by 1200 leaders from over 60 countries, including 11 heads of state and government from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and beyond.


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