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Announcement of the new EU initiative for the Western Balkans

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“It is not enough to say that the door is open. We must also take responsibility for bringing the future members of our Union closer to us,” declared the President of the European Commission. Ursula von der Leyen said at the GLBOSEC Bratislava Forum 2023, in announcing a new initiative for the Western Balkans.

“To a certain extent, this is a new approach for the European Union: we are not only asking our partners to take new steps towards us. We are also taking a big step towards them,” added von der Leyen.

As part of the “new growth plan for the Western Balkans”, four types of measures are envisaged: 1. bringing the region closer to the EU single market; 2. deepen regional economic integration; 3. accelerate fundamental reforms; and 4. increase pre-accession funds.

“We want to capitalize on the progress made in recent months. But we also want to bring some of the benefits of EU membership to the people of the Western Balkans today,” said the EC President.

Single market cooperation could lead the region to join the EU’s digital single market in areas such as e-commerce or cybersecurity and strengthen the regional common market to attract European investors.

However, von der Leyen stressed that some reforms on the part of Western Balkan countries, such as in the judiciary, public procurement and the fight against corruption, will still need to be implemented in advance so that the region can benefit fully from the new European policy. the initiative.

“We are ready to support the Western Balkans by increasing pre-accession financing. There is an urgent need for investment in the Western Balkans. These investments will improve people’s lives. And they will also smooth the way towards our Union,” von der Leyen said.

The 18th edition of the annual GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum takes place from May 29-31, attended by 1,200 leaders from more than 60 countries, including 11 heads of state and government from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the -of the.

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