Summary: The European Union is calling on six Western Balkan countries to implement reforms and create a single market in order to advance their membership bids. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized the need to tap into the economic potential of the region and bring it closer to the European single market. The EU has offered a 30 billion-euro economic and investment plan for the region, which has so far triggered investments worth 16 billion euros. Creating a common market in the Western Balkans could boost their economies by a combined 10%. The Berlin Process, aimed at improving cooperation in the region, is seen as instrumental in speeding up the integration process.
The European Union is urging six Western Balkan countries to take steps toward implementing reforms and creating a single market as part of their efforts to join the bloc. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the importance of leveraging the economic potential of the region and aligning it with the European single market. The accession process for Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia has faced numerous obstacles, including resistance from EU members and a lack of reform within the region.
Von der Leyen made these remarks during the Berlin Process summit in Tirana, an initiative designed to enhance cooperation in the Western Balkans. She stressed the need for deep-rooted reforms, and mentioned that funding for investment from the EU could accompany these reforms. The EU has offered an economic and investment plan worth 30 billion euros for the region, which has thus far generated investments totaling 16 billion euros.
In addition to economic cooperation, the creation of a common market in the Western Balkans could significantly boost the economies of the region by a combined 10%. The Berlin Process, considered a crucial instrument in expediting the integration of Western Balkan countries, was endorsed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who emphasized that progress in establishing a common regional market would bring these countries closer to EU standards.
Efforts towards integration have already been made, with Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia signing mobility agreements allowing free movement and work among the three countries using identity cards. The six countries have also agreed to continue mutual recognition of professional qualifications. Serbia and Montenegro have already commenced EU membership talks, while Albania and North Macedonia began their negotiations with Brussels last year. Bosnia and Kosovo, however, have yet to make significant headway in the process.
Tags: EU, Western Balkans, reforms, single market, membership bids, Berlin Process, integration, economic cooperation, funding, common market