500 MEUR for projects in transport and energy in the Western Balkans
At the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, Italy, the EU Commission and the regional partners agreed on seven new projects in transport and energy worth over 500 million euro, out of which 194 million euro are EU grants and loans from EBRD and EIB. The European Union is planning to allocate up to 1 billion euro by 2020 to key infrastructure projects in transport and energy of major importance to the region and its connectivity with the EU.
The Summit hosted in Trieste, on the 12 July, is a part of the "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.
To further facilitate the cooperation, the Western Balkan countries, with the exception of BIH, signed a Transport Community Treaty aimed to integrate market for infrastructure, land and water transport.
They also agreed on the Action plan to develop a Regional Economic Area, creating a common market of over 20 million people and will work together to strengthen their cooperation within CEFA, to reduce obstacles to mobility of professional and students and to support the development of the private sector. For the first time within the "Berlin Process", the partners covered topics on roaming and broadband deployment, cybersecurity, data protection and digital skills.
In the margins of the Summit, the European Commission, together with the Italian Government, organized an EU-Western Balkans Youth forum. The event brought together more than 100 young people from the region and the EU Member States, who discussed a range of topic starting from youth mobility and entrepreneurship; overcoming of stereotypes and increase in the youth participation in politics.