Von Der Leyen: 6 Billion For Western Balkans To Help Reforms

The President of the European Commission was in Pristina, where she supported steps to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, where she announced a €6 billion investment plan for the Western Balkans. These investments will support reforms needed for the EU bloc’s eventual future expansion into North Macedonia, as well as Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Today I am here to tell you and the citizens of North Macedonia that you are on the path to joining the European Union. I must say it is amazing to see the progress North Macedonia has made, as well as your determination to move forward in the right direction,” von der Leyen explained.

Among the steps needed for North Macedonia’s accession are further economic development, completion of creating the common Balkan market (which itself “could lead to a 10 percent increase in GDP”), as well as the creation of sound public finances and a better administrative and business environment.

“Reforms are never easy, so they will be accompanied by investments. We have proposed a package of 6 billion euros for our partners in the Western Balkans,” explained the President of the European Commission. “We have an investment plan for our member states called NextGenerationEU. We introduced it after the pandemic: reforms and investments, it works great, and so we thought of opening this principle to our friends in the Western Balkans.”

Von der Leyen later traveled to Pristina, Kosovo, where she renewed her address to Kosovo and Serbia aimed at normalizing relations. This is the path of European integration.

After talks with President Vjosa Osmani, von der Leyen explained, “Steps forward and successes (towards European integration – ed.) are only possible if Kosovo and Serbia normalize their relations. It is absolutely essential that both are interested and cooperative. We discussed together the possibility of starting in Kosovo the procedure for creating an Association of Municipalities with a Serbian majority (…) Serbia, for its part, must guarantee the actual recognition of Kosovo.”