At the Berlin Process initiative meeting in Tirana, the European Union announced a new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, including a financial package. At the same time, Germany pledged to secure additional funds for climate action and renewable energy.
The Berlin Process summit in Albania’s capital was the first held in a country that is not a member of the EU.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed that the gathering was very successful, but much remains to be done.
“We need to bring our economies even closer, and we need to speed up the reforms for accession. This is why I presented to the leaders our Growth Plan. If implemented, the new Growth Plan has the potential to double the size of the Western Balkan economies still in this decade,” she said. In her words, they are at 35% of the EU average.
If the region implements the reforms, billions of euros will follow
Von der Leyen pointed out that the Growth Plan has four pillars: bringing the Western Balkans into the EU single market, completing the common regional market, reforms, and funding.
As for the reforms, she said that if the EU wants to give access to the Western Balkans to the EU single market, there needs to be a level playing field and the same rules and standards.
“If reform efforts are being done, they will be matched by increased EU funding for investment. We have proposed a EUR 6 billion investment package. This is composed of EUR 2 billion in grants and EUR 4 billion in loans,” she explained.
Scholz: Regional climate partnership with the Western Balkans
According to von der Leyen, customs cooperation, e-commerce, cashless payments, road transport, electricity, and roaming are just some areas where access to the Western Balkans to the EU single market could be given.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced a regional climate partnership between his country and the Western Balkans.
He said that Germany will support the fight against climate change and the use of renewable energy in the region with EUR 1.5 billion by 2030.
The German government will also provide EUR 73 million for a new renewable energy program in Albania.