EU to Balkans: As soon as you fulfill everything, so will we

The Trieste Summit was an important and successful event that confirmed the Western Balkans' EU integration perspective, the EU has announced.

Source: Tanjug
(Getty Images, file)
(Getty Images, file)

"At this important summit hosted by Italy we first of all confirmed the perspective of the European Union integration of the Western Balkans," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, according to a European Commission statement issued after the Western Balkans Summit.

"All the six partners in the Western Balkans clearly want to be more integrated in the EU, determined to have a future in our Union for all of them; once the right reforms are passed, we will be very consistent from our side. Secondly, many new practical projects were confirmed and a Transport Community Treaty was signed, opening new connections. So, practical steps and European perspective, a very successful summit," she said.

"On the EU side we have decided to keep the door open, and guarantee that there is a future in our union for each of them. Once the right reforms are passed, we will be consistent on our side," Mogherini said, adding that "practical projects" is what marks the summit's "second big achievement."

"Many project financed, thanks to the funding of the EU mainly, and the very important treaty on transport, signed just now, that will open new connections, new roads in the region, and for connections with the EU," she concluded.

The EC recalled that EU commissioners Johannes Hahn and Violeta Bulc also took part in the summit, as have representatives of Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, and Britain, noting that the meeting was part of the Berlin Process initiative for stronger regional cooperation, and that "all participants also expressed great satisfaction with the prospect of further high level events in the region itself."

The EU Presidency and the European Commission co-signed, on behalf of the Union, the Transport Community Treaty with five Western Balkan partners, while the summit called on Bosnia-Herzegovina to sign as soon as possible.

"This important achievement will pave the way for infrastructure improvements as well as better quality transport services throughout the region. The Transport Community Treaty will help put into action reforms affecting people's everyday lives, for instance in the field of road safety," the EC announced, adding:

"By providing more stability, it will also attract new investors in the region and add to its economic growth. Finally, this Treaty will help the Western Balkan countries align their national transport laws with those of the EU, thereby strengthening neighborly relations, promoting cross-border cooperation and ultimately bringing these countries closer to the European Union."

The press released added that the Western Balkans leaders "agreed on an action plan to develop a Regional Economic Area to consolidate a market of some 20 million people, and so attract investment and generate growth and jobs."

"Objectives to be reached over the next years also include development of digital markets, smart growth, mobility of skilled workers and mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the region. The Commission will support the implementation of this initiative with a package of EUR 7 million for the improvement of the investment climate, smart specialization strategies and the Western Balkans Chamber Investment Forum. The Forum, which gathers local chambers of commerce, inaugurated its permanent secretariat, which will help put the Regional Economic Area into concrete opportunities for companies across the region," the EC announced.

"On support for the private sector, the European Commission announced EUR 48 million of additional EU funding for the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (EDIF), which is expected to leverage some EUR 250 million for the companies in the region," the statement said.

The EU-Western Balkans Youth Forum, with participation of Hahn, brought together more than 100 young leaders and representatives of youth organisations from the Western Balkans and the EU to debate mobility, inclusion, entrepreneurship and youth participation.

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