The fifth edition of the Berlin Process Summit was held on 9-10 July in London (UK), gathering heads and ministers of governments of the Western Balkans six (WB6) as well as several EU Member States with high interest in fostering further cooperation with the region.
The focus of the Summit in London was on economic development and connectivity, cooperation in security matters and good neighbourly relations.
To support the regional economic development, the European Commission announced they are putting forward a new guarantee instrument under the Western Balkans Investment Framework. The aim is to unlock private investment in a broad range of sectors such as start-ups and SMEs, climate finance and infrastructure investments, as well as digital and social sectors. This instrument is scheduled to be launched in spring 2019 with an initial EU commitment of up to 150 MEUR in 2019-2020, with the aim to leverage up to 1 BEUR in investments.
Significant steps were made in the area of security where it was recognised that capacities for border protection and for the improvement of return and readmission procedures in the region needs to be enhanced.
The WB6 also signed a Joint Declaration on Regional Cooperation and Good Neighbourly Relations, something that the EU Commission has put very high on the Enlargement Agenda.
UK financial support to the Western Balkans
At the Summit, the UK confirmed that even after it leaves the EU it will remain to be active in the region. It was announced that around 12 MEUR will be invested in digital skills and reconciliation in the Western Balkans.
The UK also pledged to increase the number of its security staff in the region and it will almost double its financial support; from 46 MEUR in 2018/19 to 90 MEUR in 2020/21; to assist countries tackle organized crime. Furthermore, the UK will support the region's efforts in the area of cybersecurity by spending 1.1 MEUR on capacity building, including a direct support to “Computer Emergency Response Teams” in Serbia and Montenegro.
The next Berlin Process Summit is scheduled to take place next year in Poznan. Poland’s Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski confirmed that their Summit will continue with the focus on security agenda.
"Berlin Process", a regional cooperation initiative initiated by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and supported by the EU Commission and several other EU Members States - Italy, France, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia. In the framework of the "Berlin Process", the regional partners are cooperating in areas of connectivity, private sector development and people-to-people contacts. The previous Summit was help in Trieste in July 2017.