Find out the latest on EU-related activities and events in the Western Balkans
Today, President Ursula von der Leyen, and High Representative Josep Borrell participated in the Western Balkans Summit in the context of the Berlin Process. During the Summit and as advanced during her mission in the region last week, the President announced a substantial energy support package of €1 billion in EU grants to help the Western Balkans addressing the immediate consequences of the energy crisis and build resilience in the short and medium term.
The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The EU continues to stand behind the Western Balkans – both in good times and in hardship. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we mobilised an unparalleled €3.3 billion package for the region and today we are putting together a €1 billion energy support package to protect the most vulnerable groups and boost much needed investments in energy diversification. We are investing in the economic fabric of the region to advance in the clean energy transition and come out greener, stronger and more sustainable from the current crisis.”
In the immediate term, the Commission is ready to provide €500 million budget support, which will be adopted in December and available in January. This amount will support households and small and medium sized enterprises to cushion against energy price increases and their impact.
Over the short- and medium term, the Commission will provide another €500 million to advance in energy diversification, renewable energy generation and gas and electricity interconnections through the Western Balkans Investment Framework. Short-term measures (next 1-2 years) will support diversification of energy supplies, by boosting gas and electricity interconnectors including LNG as well as by supporting the construction of renewable energy projects and the energy efficiency measures. The medium-term assistance (next 2-3 years) will include other investments contributing to the energy transition and security. These measures will cover large-scale renewable energy generation projects, upgrade of energy transmission systems, district heating and schemes for energy efficiency for the old blocks-of-flats.
The Summit also focused on the progress achieved by the region under the Common Regional Market; the regional initiative agreed upon by the Western Balkans leaders in Sofia in 2020 bringing together the six economies, as well as on the implementation of the Economic and Investment Plan (EIP) launched in October 2020.
The European Union welcomed the breakthrough in the negotiations of three new Common Regional Market agreements facilitating freedom of movement and employment across the region. The agreements concern ID travel within the region, recognition of academic qualifications and recognition of qualifications for certain professions. It will substantially improve mobility and cooperation within the region.
The region also endorsed a declaration on energy securitycooperation, in which the leaders committed to redoubling their effort to implement the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans aligned with the EU’s Green Deal. This cooperation will contribute to greater energy diversification and cleaner energy, as well as to speed up reforms on their national energy markets to align with the EU.
Source: European Union
Photo credits: European Union
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