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European Commission unveils new growth plan for the Western Balkans

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June 1 (VoirNews) – The European Union plans to increase pre-accession funding for Western Balkan countries and bring them closer to its single market as part of a new growth plan aimed at accelerating their accession to the EU, said European Commission President Ursula von der. Leyen said.

As part of this proposed new initiative, the Commission also plans to deepen regional economic integration and accelerate fundamental reforms, von der Leyen said in a speech at the GLOBSEC 2023 Forum in Bratislava on Wednesday.

The Western Balkans could join the EU’s digital single market in areas such as e-commerce or cybersecurity or facilitate trade in goods and payments, von der Leyen added.

The plan proposes a common regional market based on EU rules and standards to help accelerate accession to the Union.

“A common regional market is crucial for unlocking the region’s economic potential. It is crucial for making the Western Balkans a more attractive place for European investors,” said the Commission President.

At the same time, the Western Balkan countries will have to first fulfill certain membership conditions.

“Think about building an independent and efficient judicial system, ensuring reliable public procurement and stepping up the fight against corruption. Or think about the energy market. The Western Balkans region has enormous potential to diversify away from Russian fossil fuels. But it must be increased. energy efficiency, intensify diversification and accelerate the deployment of more renewable energy,” von der Leyen said.

North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina are recognized candidates for EU membership. Kosovo submitted its application for EU membership in December 2022.

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