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    West Balkan Summit 2017 in Trieste: Establishment of the Western Balkans Regional Economic Area

    At the annual summit held in Trieste on 12th of July 2017 with the heads of state and government, foreign ministers and economic and transport ministers of the Western Balkans and six EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia) discussions on regional cooperation were conducted. The focus was on cross-border infrastructure projects in the transport and energy sector, the establishment of a common regional economic area and youth exchanges.

    The West Balkans still have prospects for an approach to the EU. In addition, a joint economic area of the countries of the Western Balkans will provide for growth and employment as well as more cross-border cooperation. Concrete measures for regional cooperation and the better connection of infrastructures, economies and people were agreed upon.
    The establishment of the Western Balkans Regional Economic Area aims at developing an area where goods, services, investments and skilled workers can move without obstacles. In this way, the market for potential investors is expanded into the region, providing access to nearly 20 million consumers. This promotes the economic attractiveness of the western Balkan regions, whereby trade relations with the EU can also be used. The concept will be put into operation through a multi-year action plan which included the dimensions trade, investment, mobility and digital market. To this end, measures to successfully implement the additional protocols to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) need to be taken into account, a regional investment approach needs to be developed, obstacles to the mobility of qualified workers through the mutual recognition of professional qualifications needs to be removed, mobility for students, researchers and university teachers should be facilitated as well as extending roaming and broadband networks.



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