EU announces Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans

EU announces Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans
European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel © Európa Pont

At today’s ‘Digital Assembly’ in Sofia, Bulgaria, the European Commission announced its Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans, which create a digital economy in the region.

The Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans aims to support the transition of the region into a digital economy, which the commission expects will bring economic growth, create jobs, and deliver better services for citizens living in the area.

The agenda was prepared by the European Commission in partnership with six countries in the Western Balkans region, including:

  • Albania;
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Kosovo;
  • Montenegro;
  • Macedonia; and
  • Serbia.

The commission will co-operate closely with authorities in these partner countries to monitor implementation, and explore how the commitments can be financed implemented, particularly given the scale of the investments that need to be made.

What commitments does the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans make?

The agenda highlights a number of key priorities for improving and accelerating the transition to a digital economy in the region, and the action that the agenda’s stakeholders will take to achieve this. For example, these commitments include an investment of €30m worth of grants in the implementation of broadband infrastructure.

Other commitments will increase the strength of cybersecurity, and build capacity in the digitalisation of industry to ensure that the benefits reach all sectors of society. These partner countries will be supported in the deployment of the digitisation of public services and the improvement of digital skills among citizens.

How will this aid the commission’s digital economy aims?

European Commissioner for the Digital Economy, Mariya Gabriel, welcomed the announcement and the impact it could have across Europe. She emphasised that because digital connectivity is not restricted by national boundaries, everyone in Europe could benefit from the expansion in the capabilities of the six Western Balkans partner nations.

Gabriel said: “The aim… is to ensure that the citizens of the Western Balkans region can also fully reap the benefits of and succeed in the fast-paced and inevitable digital transformation of the world. [Our] commitment to the digital agenda will ensure that citizens have the skills to match the demands of the new economy and will help modernise public administrations, strengthen cybersecurity, increases connectivity, improve the business climate, and ensure that citizens have the skills to match the demands of the new economy.”

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