Home Politics The region needs visible benefits behind the growth plan that will be recognized for businesses and citizens

The region needs visible benefits behind the growth plan that will be recognized for businesses and citizens

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TIRANA – The EU Growth Plan for the Western Balkans is an opportunity for the EU to propose a workable strategy that would enable easier access of countries in the region to the single market, as discussed during the panel “Full Market Access single EU”. as a path to prosperity” at the Civil Society Forum (CSF).

Participants discussed the political and legal decisions needed to improve capabilities and present an economic rationale that gives credibility to the EU enlargement process.

Panelists agreed that trade waivers and market integration initiatives adopted quickly in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine reflect the EU’s ability to respond strategically in a changing geopolitical context. However, ensuring full access to European markets in the Western Balkans before accession is a difficult task.

According to the current recommendations of the working group, the EU should present a plan with a workable timetable to allow the markets of the six Western Balkan countries to immediately access the EU single market in all areas that are not yet covered. would not impose high adjustment costs.

Another recommendation is that, by the end of the year, the EU should present a formal plan to strengthen pre-accession assistance in this multiannual financial framework (MFF) with strict conditionality on the state of right.

Regarding the recommendations addressed to governments in the region, the working group concludes that they should demonstrate their unequivocal commitment to implement and monitor the implementation of reforms linked to the single market acquis.

According to the working group, the EU and the Western Balkans should significantly increase transparency in the planning, management, implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluation of pre-accession funds.

Stefan Ristovskyresearcher at the European Policy Institute, said the thematic working group had made recommendations from several rounds of discussions between 50 experts from the Western Balkans, EU members, the private sector and academia.

According to him, these recommendations are part of the political debate underway in Brussels. He added that CSOs can contribute to this discussion on how to implement a growth plan.

He said that the main proposal from CSOs is addressed to the European Commission. The European Commission should present a plan with a workable timetable to allow the markets of the six Western Balkan countries to immediately access the EU single market in all areas, which would not impose adjustment costs high and would be very beneficial and visible for businesses and citizens.

As Ristovski said, Western Balkan governments should demonstrate their unequivocal commitment to implementing and monitoring the implementation of reforms linked to the single market acquis.

He stressed that EU and Western Balkans leaders should ensure meaningful participation of relevant stakeholders, including CSOs, ensuring that political dialogue on EU integration into the single market is open and transparent to non-state actors and significantly increasing the transparency of planning. management, implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluation of pre-accession funds.

Jorida TobakuPresident of the European Affairs Committee and President of the National Council for European Integration, spoke about the important role of national parliaments in the legislative process and implementation of the EU acquis.

She felt that very often it is not clear to what extent EU norms and standards adopted in World Bank legislation actually improve the situation on the ground.

Speaking about the EU single market, Tobaku noted that Western Balkan countries have different economic indicators with regard to GDP per capita, inflation rate, investments and average salary, adding that countries in the region start from different points.

“We start from different positions, so we all need different impetus for reforms,” Tobaku said, adding that the rule of law is a prerequisite for economic reforms.

Zulfai token, political advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, stressed that Kosovo fully supports the Berlin process and EU values. He underlined the importance of the Common Regional Market as the center of the Berlin process.

According to him, the European Union’s single market is the area in which EU countries are most integrated and represents one of the most complex policies within the EU. He stressed that it is therefore important to have clear criteria for the Western Balkan countries, especially in the area of ​​the rule of law.

Pranvera Kastrati, The Senior Connectivity Expert of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) highlighted the significant importance of political commitment from Western Balkan leaders to achieve ambitious goals, which include bold political reforms. She stressed the importance of involving local institutions in the whole process.

Zdravko Ilic, senior expert on trade in services within CEFTA, estimated that the region needs visible benefits behind the growth plan which will be recognized for businesses, but also for citizens. “We need strong political commitments to move forward and visible and tangible results that we feel on the ground,” Ilić added. He said the Western Balkans need support to fight competition within the single market.

Silvana Mojsovskaprofessor at the Institute of Economics, said the main question was how to speed up the EU integration process, adding that it was necessary to set guidelines on what to do regarding access to the EU single market.

“We usually talk about EU demands, but what about EU obligations,” she said, adding that in the case of North Macedonia there is no data on compliance with the obligations of the Stabilization and Association Agreement.

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