Western Balkans: supporting our partners in these difficult times

Yesterday, EU leaders held a virtual Summit with their Western Balkan counterparts, where they reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans. The meeting was also an opportunity to demonstrate EU solidarity with the region in the current pandemic. “The Western Balkans belong in the EU. There is no question for us about this. And this is why I firmly believe that the European Union has a special responsibility in assisting its partners in the region”, recalled President Ursula von der Leyen. The EU has been treating the Western Balkans as privileged partners in this crisis, with an unparalleled financial package of €3.3 billion mobilised to help cushion the effects of the pandemic in the region. The Commission will come forward later this year with an Economic and Investment Plan to support the region’s long-term recovery. In the final Declaration, the EU reconfirmed its determination to further intensify its engagement at all levels to support the region’s political, economic and social transformation and recalled that its assistance will remain linked to tangible progress in the rule of law and in socio-economic reforms. Concluding her remarks, President von der Leyen stated: “We have just celebrated a few days ago the biggest enlargement to the European Union 16 years ago. The enlargement policy is one of the most successful EU policies. It has spread peace, security and prosperity across the continent. I am sure it will continue to be to the benefit of the Western Balkans and the European Union.” Read the President’s full statement here.