At the Western Balkans Summit London 2018, the EU focuses on the three key areas of cooperation: economy, security, reconciliation.
Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers and Ministers of Interior from the Western Balkans are meeting to continue strengthening regional cooperation.
In the area of socio-economic development, the focus will be on the further implementation of the action plan to establish a Regional Economic Area as agreed in Trieste last year, which aims at boosting the attractiveness of the region to encourage investment and foster trade, thereby creating jobs. One year into the implementation of the action plan, the region has already witnessed an uptick in intraregional trade. Discussions will also cover digital skills, as a follow-up to the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans adopted in June in Sofia.
Similarly, participants will consider ways to step up financing for SMEs and start-ups, including through the mobilisation of non-banking financing. They will exchange the need for the region to engage in its energy transition and exploit the substantial hydropower potential.
To support these objectives the European Commission, in cooperation with partner financial institutions, is putting forward a new guarantee instrument. An EU commitment up to €150 million in 2019-2020, the guarantee will leverage up to €1 billion in investments. The guarantee will allow sharing financial risk to unlock private investment in start-ups and SMEs. Also, climate finance and infrastructure investments, as well as digital and social sectors will be the tackling key bottlenecks hampering access to finance in the region.
Strengthening security cooperation
Leaders already looked into ways to deepen cooperation in addressing shared security challenges. Fight against terrorism, radicalisation, cyber attacks, organised crime and firearms trafficking were the main points. The summit will increase the cooperation among law enforcement agencies, including on information sharing. The link between corruption and security was discussed and representatives of the Western Balkans Summit London 2018.
Facilitating political cooperation
Given that, regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are at the heart of the countries’ path to the EU.
The EU supports the involvement of Western Balkans youth – youth cooperation is key to increase regional connectivity – in many EU projects, such as the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, the Creative Europe and Erasmus+ programmes, and the Youth in Action window animated by the South East Europe Resource Centre (SALTO). Furthermore, the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) will present its latest achievements and its Strategic Plan 2019-2021 for promoting reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in the region.
Original source: European Commission
Published on 10 July 2018