The Western Balkans Summit in London, UK, has concluded today with new commitments made to co-operation in the economy, security and reconciliation.
The summit began yesterday, and sought to strengthen the EU’s relationships with its six partner countries in the Western Balkans on a number of priority areas; namely, the economy, security and reconciliation. The EU had already set out a strategy for achieving stronger relations earlier this year, and at the summit, attended by heads of government from eight EU countries, the bloc focused on implementing this strategy.
What agreements were reached at the summit?
On the subject of the economy, the focus of the summit was on the implementation of an economic action plan last year, which aims at encouraging investment and fostering trade in the Western Balkans. To further boost this economic co-operation, participants in the summit will discuss support measures for SMEs and start-ups in the region.
In security, leaders discussed opportunities to increase co-operation between law enforcement agencies in the EU and Western Balkans, including on information sharing, and the six partner nations reinforced their commitment to tackle political corruption in return for EU support on some security initiatives.
In terms of reconciliation, the leaders aimed to secure lasting regional co-operation among the partner nations themselves, in part by exploring bilateral and legacy issues such as war crimes or missing persons.
What have the stakeholders said?
European Commission High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, described the summit as an important step in the EU’s efforts to expand co-operation with its neighbours and partners, as well as a stage on the journeys of the countries in question to ascend to the European Union.
She said: “In these years we have been all working together to draw the region closer and closer to the European Union, politically, economically and security-wise. And we have seen remarkable results, solutions to the most difficult bilateral issues. The Western Balkans are steadily moving forward. And today we reconfirm that we are together with the region on that path, sharing the commitment towards our common future.”