"Serbia is part of the 'Europe team'"

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen claims EU-WB Summit proves that the Western Balkans is an absolute EU priority and its "privileged partner"

Source: Tanjug
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EPA-EFE/ OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL
EPA-EFE/ OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL

She stated that Serbia was "part of the Europe team" which collected over 4 billion dollars for the fight against COVID-19.

"Western Balkans belongs to the EU and no one in the EU questions this. I firmly believe that the EU has a special responsibility to help its partners in the region," von der Leyen said.

After the video summit held with the leaders of the EU and the Western Balkans, Ursula von der Leyen emphasized that the EU showed clear solidarity with the region during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She also thanked the region for its assistance offered to EU.

"At the global donor conference, we collected 8 billion dollars, of which more than 4 billion dollars came from the "Europe team", of which Serbia was a part, with a donation of 2 million euros. It's a strong and clear message", von der Leyen said.

The President of the European Commission says that the EU has mobilized 3.3 billion euros to support the region in the health sector as well as in eliminating the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic and helping small and medium enterprises.

She adds that during the pandemic, the EU included the Western Balkans in initiatives intended only for member states, and assessed that this is proof that the Western Balkans is a "privileged partner" and that it has unequivocal EU support for its European perspective.

Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would come up with a economic investment plan after the pandemic aimed at long-term economic recovery, focusing on transport, energy infrastructure, green transformation of the economy and digital transition.

“Once we put behind us this immediate phase of the pandemic, EU will present the investment plan later this year – it will focus on necessary transport and energy infrastructure, but also Green new deal and digitalization”, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated during the press conference.

“Regional co-operation and good neighborly relations are the key to the economic recovery of the region. We in Europe know this very well because our single market is our strength. We want the Western Balkans to move closer to the EU single market and to benefit from it," von der Leyen said.

She called on the authorities in the region to continue with the reform processes, especially in the area of ​​the rule of law, the fight against corruption, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration.

"The EU wants to see clear evidence in the fight against corruption and organized crime", von der Leyen said, adding that free press, which is the cornerstone of the democracy, is of particular importance when it comes to EU values.

She emphasized that the new methodology of accession negotiations enables countries that show better results in reforms to move faster in accession negotiations.

"Enlargement policy is one of the most successful EU policies that has expanded peace, prosperity and stability on the continent. I am convinced that it will bring benefit both to the EU and the Western Balkans," von der Leyen concluded.

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