Today, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, met Heads of State or Government from the Western Balkans for the eighth time in the context of the so-called ‘Berlin Process’ to advance on their regional cooperation and European integration agenda.
During the virtual meeting hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Commission reconfirmed its commitment to cooperation with and support for the region in its post-pandemic recovery through the Economic and Investment Plan, focusing on green and digital transition investments, smart mobility links, sustainable energy, digital infrastructure, and business sector development and human capital, including youth.
President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in her opening address, said: “Our first priority is to accelerate the enlargement agenda across the region and support our Western Balkan partners in their work to deliver on the necessary reforms to advance on their European path. But our engagement with the Western Balkans goes beyond that, and the Berlin Process has served as an incubator for many initiatives that have now become an integral part of the EU’s policy vis-à-vis the region. Together we have set the course for a more sustainable, more digital and more resilient Europe.”
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, emphasised: “Closing the socio-economic gap between the Western Balkans and the EU is crucial for the Enlargement process. We are bringing significant investment opportunities to the region through the Economic and Investment Plan. Now it is for the region to use them well by harnessing its full economic potential and establishing a Common Regional Market based on EU rules. Creating ‘Green Lanes’ on the border crossings within the entire region first and now piloting this with an EU Member State is a perfect illustration of how this can work.”