North Macedonia can expect to be evaluated in late March and receive the first transfer of funds from the European Union’s new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans in early April, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bojan Marichikj said in a TV Telma appearance on Monday evening, transmits news agency MIA.
According to Deputy PM Marichikj, the EU’s funding will be focused on helping the country build its financial and economic capacities.
He also said the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to Skopje earlier on Monday to present the Growth Plan had been an encouraging signal, given that she had started her four-day tour of the Western Balkans in Skopje.
“The message was: Not only does North Macedonia have a European perspective but also it is working on it. The focus of her visit was the Growth Plan itself. Although we touched on several other topics, what she conveyed to us — and what we have been saying for a while now — was that there is, indeed, willingness among the member states to discuss and move forward regarding European integration. It is not just our imagination or a nice story or wishful thinking. It is the reality,” Marichikj said.
He added that the EC’s detailed Growth Plan would be published on Nov. 8, together with the EC’s reports on the regional countries.
Von der Leyen, according to Marichikj, had said that the Growth Plan “would not wait for those unwilling to participate.” He added that the specific areas in which North Macedonia would need to implement reforms were to be decided by the end of the year.
“The focus will be on reforms in the economic system, in financial control and fiscal policy as well as in the segment of fundamental values,” Marichikj said.
“This was clearly communicated to us,” he said, adding that the list of reforms would be made by “the ministries of finance and economy in consultation with other economic departments, transport, environment.”
He said that as soon as the report on the country was released next week, the state would prioritize building institutional capacilty in the required sectors.
“We expect that the first evaluation will be at the end of March and the first transfer of funds from this plan to be made at the beginning of April,” Marichikj said.