European Union External Action

Josep Borrell: regional cooperation in the Western Balkans is key for reconciliation and for a sustainable economic recovery

10/11/2020 - 18:49
News

At 10 November 2020 Western Balkans Sofia Summit, leaders from the region agreed to strengthen cooperation in order to develop a common regional market and to implement a green and digital transition. The EU endorses and supports these commitments, which will be instrumental to boosting socio-economic development and accelerating the region’s path towards the European Union.

 

Addressing the Summit, EU High Representative/Vice-President Borrell said:

The Western Balkans are at the heart of Europe, and their future is in the European Union. That is why our engagement has been, and remains, so strong. We have a shared interest in integrating the Western Balkans and to enhance their prosperity, justice and security.

 

 

EU and Western Balkans leaders welcomed the EU Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which aims to accelerate the long-term economic recovery of the region, building on green and digital transitions.

Leaders from the Western Balkans also committed to enhance connectivity in the region and endorsed the establishment of a Common Regional Market. The latter will represent a catalyst for deeper regional economic integration and a stepping-stone towards the EU single Market.

At the Summit, Western Balkans Leaders welcomed and endorsed the launch of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, a new growth strategy for the region in line with the European Green Deal. It is focussed on five main areas: 1. Decarbonisation: climate, energy, mobility; 2. Circular economy. 3. Depollution: air, water and soil; 4. Sustainable food systems and rural areas; 5. Biodiversity: protection and restoration of ecosystems.

Leaders also reiterated their commitment to support Roma integration, as concrete results are needed in the fields of education, employment, health, housing, civil documentation and fight against discrimination.

As the HRVP said: “I am glad to see Western Balkan leaders embracing the vital role of regional cooperation. It's as important for reconciliation as it is for economic recovery. We must not forget that the recovery needs to be sustainable and socially just. That's why the Economic and Investment Plan and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans is focused on modern, green, and people-focused investment.” He concluded: “This also means that the investments need to be underpinned by the fundamental reforms required on the European path.

The Berlin Process

The Berlin Process is an initiative of several EU Member States supporting strengthening regional cooperation and the European integration of the Western Balkans. Today marked the first time that the annual summit in the framework of the Berlin Process was co-organised by an EU Member State, Bulgaria, and an EU candidate country, North Macedonia.