17th November 2023, Skopje – Countries in the region demonstrate considerable eagerness and readiness to implement the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans. During the first meeting held in the country today, Ministers of Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Albania together with the Director – General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, opened a discussion, thereby laying the foundations for the upcoming precise steps for its implementation through the reform agenda in these countries. The financial support amounting to EUR 6 billon and covering the next 4 years, is closely rated to the reform implementation.   This was pointed out at the First Regional Ministerial Meeting on the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, which was hosted by the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia.

“This plan is an efficient tool on our road to the EU. Growth Plan for the Western Balkans is the most ambitious mechanism of the European Commission, resulting from our persistent requests, which provides for taking advantage of the benefits from the EU membership during the negotiation process. This is the first time we have set aside funds amounting to EUR 860 million for pursuing the reform agenda in our country”, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs, Bojan Maricic said at a joint press conference with the Minister of Finance, Fatmir Besimi and the Director – General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Jan Koopman.

He went on that the reforms will be jointly defined with the EC and that they being realistic and feasible is fundamental. “Wish list is not what we need, a realistic and attainable plan is rather required, and we, even in the first six months, demonstrated strong will and determination to implement the necessary reforms.” These reforms will surely be based on the already well-known indicators in view of the Progress Report, the results and the Reports under the Screening Process and the remarks obtained, whereby the deadlines to address such remarks need to be set. We surely do not expect to solve every issue in the first six months, all this will be gradually carried out, however the completion of the first stage will be followed by disbursing the first tranche of the funds intended therefor, Maricic pointed out.

As Minister of Finance, Fatmir Beismi pointed out, half of the funds will be intended for budget support, while the other half will be used for making investments.

“How will our citizens and business sector benefit from this Plan? As for the respective EUR 6 billion, EUR 2 billion are grant funds allocated by the EU citizens, whereby EUR 4 billion will be additional loans under favourable terms and conditions and longer-term maturity period, compared to the ongoing financing conditions on the international markets.  Plan places stronger focus on the carrying out the respective reforms and the substantial financial support, all to the end of speeding up the ongoing reform implementation with the  EU under the Economic and Financial Dialogue”, Besimi said.

As per Besimi, the Growth Plan provides for financing the reforms in support of growth, whereby todays’ discussions are encouraging, given that this Plan only supplement the ongoing various process in view of the reform agendas, the national development strategies, the ultimate goal of which is speeding up the required processes and taking advantage of the synergy thereamong.

Koopman assessed today’s discussion as excellent as and much more productive than expected.

“You have made a flaying start and I can only congratulate you on the energy and the farsightedness that you have demonstrated today.

We had an excellent discussion with ministers from the region, which was even more productive than I had hoped for. Growth Plan looks at doubling the size of your economies, simply put, the average income in the region is 6,000 per person, so in 10 years time, there should be 12,000 per person. This will be attained by integrating in the EU Singe Market, by helping you integrate your markets amongst yourself, by undertaking investments backed up by EUR 6 billion of finance from the EU, Koopamn said at the press- conference.

He pointed out that it was a matter of very ambitious plan and the energy that he saw today at the meeting to make this a reality was very promising. “There is still quite a lot of work to do, but we will continue the conversations in Brussels next week. We have agreed to stay in very close touch, I would like to hereby congratulate again the Government of North Macedonia for this initiative, showing a degree of focus that is extremely precious. This Growth Plan will accelerate your accession process. We see with the reforms that you are planning that accession comes closer. We want to bring Western Balkans home as well, Director – General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Jan Koopman pointed out, adding that the reform implementation is crucial in light of this Growth Plan and that the respective financial support entails implementing the required reforms.

“Money only flows if reforms are completed in line with the reform agenda approved by the EU, which will thus provide for accelerating the EU integration process of the region”, Koopman pointed out.

Regional Ministerial Meeting was the first meeting upon the adoption of the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, attended by ministers and chief negotiators from the Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo. This is just the first step as regards the dialogue that will follow in the coming period.

Оваа вест е достапна и на: Macedonian Albanian

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