The European Commission (EC) prepares to present a large-scale economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans. The plan is supposed to be revealed during the presentation of progress reports for the region countries.
The European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi announced the details on Monday in a speech at the Forum on Western Balkans in Berlin, organized by Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Klix.ba portal reports.
He said that now they were on the third pillar of the EU integration process.
– In the coming weeks we shall present a large-scale economic and investment plan the Western Balkans region, said Varhelyi.
He stated that there was enormous economic development gap with the European Union.
– The faster we close the gap, the sooner we start building resilient and strong market economies for countries and its peoples and faster their integration will go leading to long-term peace and stability in the region, Varhelyi said.
Furthermore,when it comes to EU integration, he announced a new dynamic and stepping away from the negotiation chapters,
– Those who deliver results quicker and are able to perform all legislative reforms after opening a chapter, and if there are legislative reforms before opening a chapter binds us to close the chapter negotiations within a year's time. This is huge step forward compared to the previous practice where the chapters stayed open for 5 to 7 years without much progress, Varhelyi said.
He said the EU needed a new economic-based policy approach, otherwise their goal to intensify their presence in the Western Balkans could not be achieved.
– We need to increase our investment and to help to close the economic development gap. Thereby, this new economic and investment plan should concentrate on flagship areas and projects that will directly create long-term growth and much needed jobs, Varhelyi assessed.
According to him, this was also a way to create an attractive investment climate.
– These flagship areas that the plan will focus on, are connectivity in transport and energy, the so-called Green Deal, and digital transformation, including basic digital network infrastructure missing in the region,. Without these, it is impossible to develop a competitive economy, Varhelyi believes.
As he stated, the plan will also reflect elements of “open strategic autonomy”.
Varhelyi said that this priority of the German presidency, which puts a strong emphasis on “technological autonomy”, is a very important aspect in a context of reconfiguration of global value chains.
– The Western Balkans has an enormous potential to become an investment hub for European companies trying to cut their value chains and we have to help the region to develop into that, Varhelyi concluded
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