26th April 2024, Podgorica – Economic accession of Western Balkan countries to the EU is the right formula for accomplishing our common goal as a region – fully-fledged EU membership. Implementation of reforms is the right step, driven by the new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, with both the countries from the region and the EU working extensively thereon, said Deputy Minister of Finance, Filip Nikoloski, participating in the meeting of ministers from the region and EU representatives, dedicated to the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, taking place in Podgorica.

“We meet in Podgorica today to discuss topics of great relevance for our EU integration process. Such regional format of holding meetings, third one dedicated to the Growth Plan, is an efficient model for accelerating the reform agenda. North Macedonia’s reform agenda has been already adopted by the Government and sent to the EC. What is important is to boost and accelerate the implementation of the reform processes. This will be the right path to joining the EU”, Deputy Minister Nikoloski said.

During the regional meeting, he talked about the specific activities the Government undertakes in relation to the country’s accession to SEPA and expanding the green lanes further.

“North Macedonia has expressed readiness to meet the criteria for close economic and legal relations with the EU and to execute payment transactions in euros by accessing SEPA. This will contribute to eliminating the market barriers with the EU countries, enhancing the credibility of the financial sector on the international arena, deepening the trade relations with the European economic area and simplifying, speeding up and lowering the costs related to services for both the citizens and the companies. The application is already prepared and is to be submitted by mid-2024”, Nikoloski said.

Additional benefits are also expected, as he said, from expanding the green lanes established during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Existing green lanes have already contributed to reducing the waiting time at the border crossings, and by expanding them further, uninterrupted supply chains and enhanced trade will be ensured, making the region more attractive for the investors.  Now they are expanding their scope to include more types of goods at the border crossings between the European Union and the Western Balkan countries”, Deputy Minister of Finance pointed out.

He also emphasized the support EU extends in the field of customs, as well as the Government’s commitment to implementing the national reforms in this area. Further enhancement of the customs cooperation should focus not only on trade facilitation, but also on protecting both the EU and the Western Balkan countries’ financial interests, as well as their citizens’ safety and security.

This is the third ministerial meeting dedicated to the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans held in Podgorica, following the first and the second ones taking place in Skopje and Tirana respectively.

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