Today, the EU-Western Balkans Summit is taking place in Brdo, Slovenia. The discussion will revolve around fostering the socio-economic recovery of the region from the pandemic, in line with sustainable development and on the basis of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. The €9 billion EU funding would incentivise the region’s long-term recovery and accelerate a green and digital transition. Moreover, the leaders will address ways to boost political dialogue, security cooperation and strategic engagement.
The Summit is preceded by last week’s visit by the President of the European Commission in the Western Balkans. In her speeches, von der Leyen addressed the need to strengthen regional cooperation and resolve regional conflicts in order to build a common future in Europe. Western Balkan enlargement represents a priority for the Slovenian Presidency, which aims for the EU expansion to the six Balkan countries by the end of the decade.
A central priority is the post-Covid recovery of the region, which the EU supports together with the European Investment Bank (EIB). By September 2021, the Western Balkans had received 2.9 million EU approved vaccines by the EU and its Member States. The health and socio-economic support not only consists of over €3.3 billion, but also of the creation of incentives for public sector investment and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
European Commission: Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans
Council of the EU: EU Response to COVID-19 in the Western Balkans
European Investment Bank: Building the future of SMEs in the Western Balkans
6 October 2021: Western Balkans Summit
22-23 October 2021: Conference on the Future of Europe Plenary
European Movement International position
As elaborated in our policy position on Promoting peace, stability and investment in the Western Balkans, the European Movement International supports a positive enlargement narrative in the Western Balkans. The EU shall maintain its consistent involvement in the region and ensure the feasibility of a common European future for the Western Balkans. Moreover, the Union should make it viable for the six countries to improve the living conditions of the citizens and reduce inequalities through public investment and funding in the region.
The Conference on the Future of Europe shall engage citizens of Europe as a whole, and also gather contributions from citizens of countries that are not yet members of the Union but have embarked on the candidacy trajectory, such as the Western Balkans. As outlined in our policy position on the Conference on the Future of Europe, there should be active participation of the Balkans representatives, including civil society organisations in order to fulfill the scope of the Conference and keep citizens involved in the process, as well as aid in overcoming differences.