The European Union’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans supports the long-term economic recovery of the region, stimulating regional integration in parallel. The plan’s implementation will stimulate economic activity, increase investments in the public and private sectors, enhance competitiveness and innovations, especially of small and medium enterprises, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in his address at the Western Balkans Summit in Tirana on Thursday.
The summit, hosted by Albanian PM Edi Rama, also includes Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic, Kosovo PM Albin Kurti, Serbian PM Ana Brnabic, Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of Ministers Chairman Zoran Tegeltija and European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi.
“We are committed to stimulating the development of capacities using renewable energy sources and transfer from coal to renewable energy resources, increase of energy efficiency, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and improving infrastructure for waste water management. During these challenging periods, all regional countries work together towards setting up a joint regional market,” noted PM Zaev.
He said this is a successful model to motivate the region into launching new regional initiatives aimed at approximation of the Western Balkans to the EU single market.
The PM said digitization plays a central role in the modernization of economies, further integration of the Western Balkans digital economy to the EU single digital market, thus making the region a more attractive investment destination.
“The alignment of Western Balkans regulations with the fundamental principles that regulate EU’s internal market, based on the approach of the four freedoms and mutual recognition agreements, will develop employment opportunities, because trade liberalization, capital flows and mobility will lead to market enlargement. The Economic and Investment Plan will increase the region’s attractiveness for foreign investors and ensure a larger influx of investments,” underlined Zaev.
The Tirana summit participants discussed concrete steps such as regional travel with IDs, facilitation of trade for food products and industrial goods through mutual recognition agreements, increasing job opportunities for professionals and student mobility across the region, lower costs for regional payments, development of a regional digital market and joint border controls, along with expansion of the green lane initiative to cut waiting times at borders.