We continue with the special edition of our monthly 'Country Digest’ featuring Western Balkans countries. This time we look at Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), a country that has been a candidate country since 2005 and benefits from 664.2 MEUR from IPA II funding 2014-2020.
The first EU - Western Balkan Summit in 15 years took place in Sofia on 17 May and it strongly reaffirmed the European perspective of the region. At the Summit, the EU and Western Balkan leaders adopted the Sofia Priority Agenda outlining concrete measures in areas of digital connectivity, security and rule of law. Most of the measures will be channeled through the Western Balkans Investment Framework.
Regarding digital connectivity, it was agreed to launch a new Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans. The agenda includes a roadmap to facilitate lowering roaming costs between the EU and the region as well as 30 MEUR investment in broadband rollouts. Western Balkan leaders also agreed to support lowering roaming costs in the region, to improve climate for digital investments and to hold an annual ICT Regulatory Dialogue jointly with the European Commission beginning in autumn 2018.
The EU and Western Balkans also agreed on 190 MEUR grants for 11 transport projects, doubling the funding for Erasmus+ projects in the region and facilitating mobility in vocational education and training, support for energy transition and the region’s plan to develop a Regional Economic Area as well as increased cooperation on migration and border management.
Next steps include:
Launch of the Digital Agenda at the Digital Assembly in Sofia on 25-26 June.
Further elements of the EU’s annual Connectivity Package will be presented later this year.
The Berlin Process Summit in London (9-10 July) tackling issues of interconnectivity, advancement of digital agenda and entrepreneurship, aiming to strengthen political and regional security cooperation and increase economic stability with a view to improving business environment.
The next EU - Western Balkans Summit will take place during the Croatian presidency of the Council in 2020.
Did you know about FYROM and the EU?
- FYROM has been a candidate country since 2005.
- In May 2017, a new government took office committed to an EU reform agenda.
- The EU is the largest provider of financial assistance to FYROM.
- 664.2 MEUR were allocated to FYROM for the period 2014-2020 under the IPA II programme. By the end of 2017 under the IPA II programme, the total of 296 MEUR worth of projects have been adopted out of which 176 MEUR have been contracted.
- Since 1999 European Investment Bank invested around 650 MEUR.
- Once again the Commission has recommended opening accession negotiations.
- In addition, the EU has provided 93.4 MEUR in grants through the Western Balkans Investment Framework since 2009.
- EU programmes and initiatives supporting growth of business and the wider economy such as the Turnaround Management Programme, the Trade Helpdesk and the Enterprise Europe Network are open to companies based in FYROM.
- FYROM also participates in centrally managed programmes such as H2020, Erasmus+, COSME, Creative Europe.