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News / Berlin Summit: Western Balkans strengthen regional cooperation and foster closer ties with the EU
President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, participated in the Western Balkans Summit on 5 July in the context of the so-called ‘Berlin Process’. The summit brought together for the eighth time Heads of State or Government from the Western Balkans and their counterparts from nine EU Member States, high-level EU representatives and the United Kingdom, to advance on their regional cooperation and European integration agenda. The virtual meeting was hosted by Chancellor Merkel.
During the Summit, 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. The Commission also called for further progress in the region’s economic integration to reap the full benefits of the planned investments.
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.”
Today’s Summit focused on the progress achieved by the region in economic integration under the Common Regional Market action plan from last year’s 2020 Sofia Summit, and on implementing the Economic and Investment Plan put forward by the Commission last autumn.
Source: European Commission
Photo credits: European Commission
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