The sun may be hiding in the clouds in Ljubljana, contradicting strong storm forecasts, but optimism remains cautious for Prime Ministers of Northern Macedonia Zoran Zaev and Albania Edi Rama to start EU accession negotiations.
With the center of the Slovenian capital blocked around the Grand Hotel Union where the European Socialist summit will be held, no one who spoke to IBNA showed any signs of optimism for the upcoming EU-Western Balkans Summit, which begins this evening with an informal dinner. EU leaders in Brdo pri Kranju.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, will chair the summit. President Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, will represent the EU.
Invitation letter from President Charles Michel, October 1, 2021
The summit is part of the EU’s strategic engagement with the Western Balkans, in line with the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024. It follows the 2018 EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia and the 2020 EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb, which was held via video conference.
The summit will consist of a plenary session followed by a leaders-only session.
Discussions will focus on reaffirming the European perspective of the Western Balkans, which is of mutual strategic interest and remains a common strategic choice, the development of our cooperation and the socio-economic recovery of the region, in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. .
Also the implementation of the Economic and Investment Plan (EIP), which defines a significant investment package and will generate more sustainable, green, digital and people-focused growth, benefiting the region and Europe as a whole.
intensifying regional co-operation by exploring further co-operation on political and security issues of mutual interest
For the plenary session, the leaders will be joined by representatives of the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank and the Regional Cooperation Council.
At the end of the meeting, EU leaders are expected to adopt a statement, with which Western Balkan leaders are invited to approximate.
Economic and Investment Plan (EIP) of 30 billion euros
The EU is the main political, economic and trade partner of the Western Balkans. Through the EIP, the EU is now providing unprecedented financial support by mobilizing around € 30 billion for the region over the next seven years.
The EU will provide 9 billion euros in funding through the top 10 investment vessels. In this way the EIP aims to:
– promotes long-term economic recovery
-accelerate a green and digital transition
-supports regional cooperation
– to promote convergence with the EU
The EIP will also help attract public and private investment, supported by the Western Balkans Guarantee Facility, which has the potential to mobilize 20 billion euros.
A shared responsibility
EIP investments are intended to be an impetus for positive change for the Western Balkans. However, this will only be sustainable through a joint effort by all parties.
EU support is linked to tangible progress in the rule of law, socio-economic reforms and adherence to European values, rules and standards.
Today, 5 October, on the eve of the summit, President Michel will invite EU leaders to join an informal Council of Europe working dinner./ ibna