Von der Leyen vows to double WB economies in decadeReading Time: 2 minutes
The EU will finance Western Balkans (WB) integration reforms to the tune of EUR 6bn, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Skopje, north Macedonia, on Monday.
“These reforms will come with investment,” von der Leyen said during a press conference with North Macedonia Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski.
Von der Leyen said the EU was ready to start issuing EUR 100mn payments in micro-financial assistance but added that “we need to do more, we need to bring our economies closer. What we aim to do together is to double your economy within the next decade.”
Von der Leyen said “Northern (sic) Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina should use this opportunity to expand into the EU and work to harmonize their standards with the standards of the European bloc.” The opening of EU markets to the WB would increase their GDP by around 10%, she added.
“We need reforms for the business community, efficient public administration, and it is crucial to continue reforms in the judiciary and the fight against corruption,” von der Leyen said.
Von der Leyen travelled from Skopje to Pristina, Kosovo, in the next section of her four-day tour of the WB countries
Her itinerary included meetings with Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Pristina. Von der Leyen reportedly urged Kosovo to grant more autonomy to its Serb minority, which is around 5% of the population, by creating an association of municipalities.
Von der Leyen will also hold talks with Montenegrin President Jakov Milatovic and Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic in Podgorica on Tuesday.
Serbian state media reported that von der Leyen would meet with President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic in Belgrade.
On Wednesday von der Leyen, will talk to the members of the Bosnian Presidency and the Chair of the Council of Ministers, Borjana Kristo, in Sarajevo, central Bosnia, local media reported.