In these unprecedented times, the European Union reiterated once again its explicit support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans at the virtual Zagreb Summit on 6 May 2020. Its main outcome, the Zagreb Declaration, agreed by the Heads of State and Government from EU Member States and the leaders of the six Western Balkans partners - Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo, confirmed the EU support to the Western Balkans and its commitment to actively support their efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, its impacts on societies and economies and the post-pandemic recovery. To that end, the EU has mobilised a package of over EUR 3.3 billion, including 750 million EUR of Macro-Financial Assistance, and a 1.7billion EUR package of assistance from the European Investment Bank.
These measures will be followed by a new phase of close cooperation to deal with the massive socio-economic crisis impact. The European Commission will present later this year a solid economic and investment plan for the region, aimed at reviving economies while increasing their competitiveness. Investment is crucial to stimulate the region's recovery in the long term and to support the reforms needed to continue make progress on the European path. The objective is to have the Western Balkans develop into functioning market economies that can fully connect to the EU's Single Market, create jobs and business opportunities.
If well exploited, the funding will help not only to create a more prosperous economic market but can also lead to improvements in research and innovation sector. In this regard, investing on education and on a single research market will be crucial. The Zagreb declaration highlights the promising prospect of a long-lasting cooperation and could serve as a catalyst for a more substantial partnerships to foster the R&I sector.
22 June 2020