The head of the European Commission has called for measures to bring Western Balkan countries closer to the European Union.
“We need decisive action, now, to bring the Western Balkans partners closer to us. This is exactly what the new growth plan for the Western Balkans aims to achieve. It has the potential to double the size of the “region’s economy in a decade,” Ursula said. said von der Leyen after the one-day EU-Western Balkans summit in Brussels on Wednesday.
Von der Leyen said the EU was ready to open accession negotiations on Group 1 – the bloc’s fundamentals – with Albania and North Macedonia.
“We believe that negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina should be opened when the necessary level of compliance with the accession criteria is achieved,” she added.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was granted EU membership about a year ago.
She added that Montenegro benefits from a new impetus to return to the European path thanks to its new government.
Regarding recent tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, she said the latter must move forward to fulfill their obligations under the EU-facilitated dialogue.
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, and unrest in predominantly Serb areas of Kosovo has escalated into violence and seen a buildup of troops on the two countries’ shared border.
Von der Leyen also said that the EU’s growth plan for the region could easily double the region’s current economy.
EU Council President Charles Michel said the Brussels summit focused on harmonizing the region with foreign and security policy, growth plan and energy cooperation.
“We also talked about strengthening cooperation in the fight against disinformation, cyberattacks and hybrid attacks, better cooperation in the field of migration and harmonization of visa policy,” Michel said .
The leaders of the six Western Balkan countries met in Brussels on Wednesday for the summit. EU leaders recently said the bloc should be ready to expand by 2030, including possibly admitting Western Balkan countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The EU’s last major expansion was in 2010, but the bloc has been keen to welcome Western Balkan countries, in part to ensure they do not fall under the influence of other world powers.
If Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are still considered potential candidates, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia have acquired the status of candidate countries over the years.