Borrell: EU Ministers for more engagement with the Western Balkans, new meeting soon

BRUSSELS, Foreign Affairs Council, 10 May 2021 – The Council held a strategic discussion on the Western Balkans, and the elements of reinforced EU engagement in the region.

Ministers reaffirmed the European perspective of the whole region, underlining the importance of a political engagement in a wide range of areas such as: the fight against the COVID pandemic, economic cooperation, connectivity, tackling external influence and disinformation.

The discussion highlighted the need for Western Balkan countries to accelerate EU-related reforms and reinforce a positive and constructive narrative. The High Representative stressed the urgent need to advance on the accession process of Albania and North Macedonia, take forward the EU integration with Serbia and Montenegro, and make progress on visa liberalisation for Kosovo. Ministers also asked for the swift resumption of Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, and reiterated their continued and unequivocal support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The Council also recalled the key role of the EU in helping Western Balkans partners in responding to the COVID 19 pandemic, through health assistance, financing for socioeconomic recovery, and donation of vaccines.

“The Ministers reaffirmed the European perspective of the whole region. But this is not only about the enlargement process. We want to make sure that we have political engagement with our partners. There was an agreement for the need of Western Balkans to accelerate the EU-accession reforms and to reinforce positive and constructive narratives”, Borrell said in a press conference following the meeting.