Arberi

Full Statement of the Slovenia Summit

The leaders of the European Union, together with the member states, at the Summit of Slovenia, in consultation with the leaders of the Western Balkans, signed a joint statement.

There, the EU says it has reiterated its support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans, while one point is dedicated directly to the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

Full statement:

Brdo Declaration, October 6, 2021

We, the leaders of the European Union (EU) and its Member States, in consultation with the leaders of the Western Balkans and in the presence of regional and international stakeholders, today reach the following conclusion:

1. The EU reaffirms its clear support for the European Perspective of the Western Balkans and welcomes the commitment of the partners of the Western Balkans to the European perspective, which is in our mutual strategic interest and remains our common strategic choice. The EU reaffirms its commitment to the enlargement process and the decisions taken by it on this basis, based on credible reforms by the partners, fair and rigorous conditionality and the principle of its own merits. We will further intensify our joint commitment to advance the political, economic and social transformation of the region, while acknowledging the progress made by the Western Balkans. We also recall the importance of the EU being able to sustain and deepen its development, ensuring its capacity to integrate new members.

2. The partners of the Western Balkans reiterate their commitment to European values ​​and principles and to implementing the necessary reforms in the interests of their peoples. The EU welcomes the repeated commitment of the Western Balkan partners to the primacy of democracy, fundamental rights and values ​​and the rule of law, and to continuing efforts in the fight against corruption and organized crime, support for good governance, human rights, gender equality and the rights of persons belonging to minorities. The credibility of these commitments depends on the meaningful implementation of the necessary reforms, and the construction of a consistent history supported by clear and consistent public communication. An independent and pluralistic civil society and media are crucial components of any democratic system and we welcome and support the role they play in the Western Balkans.

3. The EU is by far the region's closest partner, major investor and major donor. The unprecedented extent and range of this support should be fully recognized and conveyed by the partners in their debate and public communication.

4. EU support will continue to be linked to tangible progress in the rule of law and socio-economic reforms as well as adherence to European values, rules and standards by partners.

5. The EU fully supports the reaffirmed commitment of the Western Balkan partners to comprehensive regional co-operation and the strengthening of good neighborly relations with EU Member States as well. The implementation in good faith and with tangible results of bilateral agreements, including the Prespa Agreement with Greece and the Good Neighborly Relations Treaty with Bulgaria, remains important. Further and decisive efforts are needed to promote regional reconciliation and stability, as well as to find and implement final, comprehensive and binding solutions to bilateral disputes and issues between partners rooted in the legacy of the past, in accordance with international law. and established principles, including the Agreement on Inheritance and Remaining Missing Persons and War Crimes Matters.

6. We fully support the efforts of the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other regional issues of the Western Balkans and look forward to concrete progress by both Parties in the full normalization of relations between them, which is critical to the stability and development of all. region and to ensure that they can continue on their respective European paths.

COVID-19

7. The COVID-19 crisis continues to have a severe impact on our societies and economies. It emphasizes the need and advantages of our close and effective partnership. The EU, along with its member states, has stood by the Western Balkans throughout the pandemic, providing health and socio-economic support to the region, which has reached an unprecedented value of 3,3 billion euros so far. The Western Balkans partners are closely involved in EU initiatives, in particular the Health Safety Committee, the Early Warning System, the Green Corridors and the Joint Procurement Agreement on Medical Countermeasures. The EU stands ready to further improve access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapy and to provide better predictability and resilience to future crises.

8. The EU also appreciates the valuable support that the Western Balkans have given during the epidemic to each other and to the EU. It reflects the solidarity and mutual support on which the EU is built. This cooperation and coordination should continue in the future, including in the recovery phase.

9. The EU will continue to strongly support the Western Balkans, especially with regard to the supply of vaccines. The EU and its member states have provided 2,9 million doses of vaccine through various channels for the Western Balkans, with more coming. The EU will support all partners' vaccination plans to help achieve vaccination rates similar to the EU average by the end of 2021.

Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans

10. Following the Summit of the Leaders at the Zagreb Summit, the EU presented an Economic and Investment Plan (PEI) and guidelines for the Implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. The plan sets out a substantial investment package mobilizing around € 30 billion for the region over the next seven years, consisting of € 9 billion in grant financing and € 20 billion in investment, utilized through the new Western Balkans Guarantee Instrument . Maximizing the potential impact of the IEP requires the Western Balkan partners to resolutely undertake economic and social reforms, as well as to strengthen the rule of law. The plan can boost the region's green socio-economic recovery and competitiveness in the long run, support its green and digital transition, foster sustainable connectivity, regional integration, trade, and thus strengthen cooperation and convergence with the EU. in, including with EU climate-related objectives.

11. We welcome the recent adoption of the legal framework for the implementation of IPA1 III, which will continue to be the main source of financial assistance to the region, including the PEI. The Commission intends to propose a € 600 million investment package under IPA 2021 for the implementation of the EIP for the Western Balkans, in accordance with procedures in line with the IPA III program framework and implementation rules. Together with the € 500 million proposal announced in July, this would provide a total of € 1,1 billion for EIP implementation by the end of 2021. 

12. Recognizing the commitment of the leaders of the Western Balkans to fully implement the Green Agenda, we welcome the agreement on the relevant Action Plan. In line with the Green Agreement, the Agenda is a key driver for the transition to a modern, carbon-neutral, climate-resistant and resource-efficient economy, to unlock the potential of the circulating economy, fight pollution and improve management. waste. Its successful implementation will require a strong commitment from the region. It is essential to focus efforts to ensure a timely and effective transition away from coal through the use of renewable or less carbon-intensive fuels. Energy security must also be turned into a priority, along with the diversification of resources and lines. The EU will continue to support the region in implementing the Green Agenda and developing a carbon pricing policy in the context of the EU Carbon Boundary Regulation (CBAM) mechanism, including through technical and financial assistance.

13. The PEI provides a new impetus to increase connectivity in all its dimensions, both within the Western Balkans and with the EU. The EU will continue to support comprehensive regional cooperation. Further and decisive efforts are needed from the leaders of the Western Balkans to fulfill their commitment to establishing a Common Regional Market, as agreed at the Berlin Process Summit in Sofia in 2020. This will help advance the region. on its European path and will provide concrete benefits to citizens and businesses. Utilizing the potential of inclusive regional economic integration is essential to foster the socio-economic recovery of the region and maximize the return on investment derived from the PEI. Strong commitment from the whole region is needed to conclude the relevant regional negotiations quickly.

14. The EU and the Western Balkans agree to step up efforts to increase the integration of the Western Balkan market with the EU Common Market. In this regard, the PEI provides a solid basis for putting the regional market integration into operation within the EU Common Market, especially in areas such as cross-border payments (SEPA), industrial and consumer goods, e-commerce and customs.

15. Sustainable transport is a cornerstone of the economic and social integration of the EU and the Western Balkans. It is a priority to further develop transport connectivity - within the region and with the EU, to improve the efficiency and safety of transport services, as well as to achieve green and sustainable mobility objectives, especially in relation to railways and internal waterway connections. In the context of sustainable connectivity, we welcome the recently adopted Transport Community Action Plans for rail, road, road safety, transport facilitation and water transport.

16. Based on the successful implementation of the Regional Roaming Agreement and the start of the roaming-free regime in the Western Balkans from 1 July 2021, we welcome the roaming guide, which will establish clearly defined conditions and objectives for reduction of roaming costs between the EU and the Western Balkans.

17. We welcome the EU-Western Balkans Green Lane concept and support its practical implementation across relevant borders by fully respecting the acquis and the required EU procedures.

18. An Agenda for Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sports is presented today - the Innovation Agenda for the Western Balkans. It will promote scientific excellence, as well as reform the education systems of the region, create further opportunities for young people, and help prevent the phenomenon of brain drain. We look forward to the speedy implementation of his Plan of Action.

Political and Security Cooperation

19. Staying together with the EU is a clear sign of the strategic orientation of our partners. We therefore reiterate our expectation that the partners will further deepen cooperation in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CEAP) and make concrete and sustained progress towards full alignment with EU foreign policy positions. and will act accordingly, including positions in international forums as an important part of their European path. We welcome the fact that some partners are already fully compliant with all PPJS decisions and statements, and we encourage them to continue to do so. The EU stands ready to further strengthen the political dialogue on issues related to the CAP.

20. The EU and the Western Balkans share a range of security challenges that require coordinated action. We agree to strengthen our co-operation on key security issues, including at the operational level, based on work done under the Sofia Priority Agenda. Our partners pledge to demonstrate their commitment to our common security and to continue to develop effective instruments for cooperation within the Western Balkans. They have demonstrated their commitment to the CSDP by contributing to EU missions and operations, and we will work together to further develop their capabilities and capacities, in particular through the European Peace Instrument. The EU will also increase its engagement in areas such as space and military mobility to facilitate access to civilian military assistance to the region in the event of pandemics and natural disasters.

21. We will strengthen our cooperation in addressing disinformation and other hybrid threats emanating in particular from third country actors seeking to undermine the European perspective of the region. The EU and the Western Balkans will strengthen cooperation in building resilience, increasing our cyber security and cyber diplomacy, and increasing the impact of our strategic communication.

22. We commend our partners for their continued efforts and constructive cooperation on migration, which have yielded clear results. Migration management is a common challenge that the EU and the Western Balkans must address together, in close partnership.

23. Our cooperation in addressing migration challenges has demonstrated its value and will be further developed. The EU stands ready to continue its commitment and strengthen its support through a specific and comprehensive approach. Areas of focus should include improving asylum systems, tackling migrant smuggling and illegal migration, return processes, border management, information exchange and reception capacity. Partners need to work further to improve return systems, including concluding readmission agreements with key countries of origin. Mutual return cooperation will be deepened, maximizing the use of existing frameworks and available channels. Cooperation should also be intensified with Frontex, the European Office for Asylum Support and Europol. Frontex still unsigned statutory agreements must be signed without delay.

24. Given the seriousness of the situation in Afghanistan, the EU will work closely with all its partners, including the Western Balkans, to address emerging challenges and coordinate joint responses, as appropriate.

25. Terrorism, radicalization and organized crime continue to pose serious security threats to the EU and the region as a whole. We call for further strengthening of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the fight against violent extremism, including the prevention of terrorist financing and radicalization. We reiterate the importance of taking the measures taken to address serious and organized crime, in particular trafficking and smuggling of human beings, money laundering, cultivation and drug trafficking.

26. The EU is fully committed to preventing the illicit trade and trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, and will continue to support the Western Balkans in this area, including in the context of the dedicated Western Balkans Roadmap. against the illegal trafficking of firearms.

27. To further promote our common interests, we express our readiness to renew and enhance regular political dialogue with the region. In this context, we welcome the holding of the EU-Western Balkans Summits as regular events. We look forward to the next summit, which will be held in 2022.

28. The EU and the Western Balkans must work together to face the tasks that are defining for generations. We welcome the initiatives of the Western Balkans to contribute to the reflections on the future of our continent. We remain committed to listening to all Europeans on the issues that matter to us all - protecting citizens and freedoms, developing a strong and vibrant economic base, advancing the green and digital transition, the rule of law, Europe just and social, strengthening Europe's resilience, as well as Europe's global leadership role.

29. We welcome the fact that our Western Balkan partners agree with the above points