Ahead of the 6 May meeting between the EU and the region, the European Union reinforces its support to the Western Balkans to address the coronavirus crisis.
As announced on April 29, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank will mobilise over €3.3 billion to benefit the citizens of the Western Balkans. This support will continue addressing the immediate health and resulting humanitarian needs of the COVID-19 pandemic and will help with the social and economic recovery of the region.
The EU and the Western Balkans are facing this crisis together. Given their European perspective, the EU has included the Western Balkans in several initiatives and instruments reserved for EU Member States. These include the joint procurement of medical equipment, exempting the region from the EU’s export authorisation scheme for personal protective equipment and the supply by the EU of testing material. The EU has also ensured the fast flow of essential goods across land borders through “green lanes”. The region is also associated to the work of relevant EU health bodies as well as to the research and innovation effort.
With today’s package, the EU sent another strong and clear signal that it will continue to support the Western Balkans partners.
This support also extends to the reforms needed to advance on the EU path, considering that the post-COVID-19 recovery will only work effectively if the countries keep delivering on their commitments related to the EU accession. In this context, Western Balkans partners are encouraged to strongly focus on the reforms related to rule of law, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration.
Once the immediate COVID-19 crisis is over, an Economic and Investment Plan for the region will be put forward later this year to support long-term recovery, economic growth and reforms required to move forward on the EU path. (Image North Macedonia, archive)