European officials have confirmed that the 27 ambassadors of the European Union have reached an agreement on the declaration of the EU-Western Balkans summit to be held on October 6 in Slovenia. According to European officials, the final declaration may be changed by leaders, but it already represents a good balance between the willingness to enlarge the European Union with the six Balkan countries and the European Union's capacity to admit future members. EU sources have told ABC that the word "enlargement" is clearly included in the text, contradicting preliminary information published in the media that the final statement did not contain the word "enlargement" and did not offer any guarantee of European Union enlargement with the countries of the region.
According to EU sources, the final statement is based on several key axes, dealing with tangible and visible results. First, the summit will present a 30 billion-euro European plan for investment and the economy in the Western Balkans. From this plan, 9 billion will be offered in grants and the rest from the European guarantee mechanism.
The summit will also affect the agreement reached between the three key European institutions (European Commission, Council of Ministers and European Parliament of financial assistance for the countries of the Western Balkans for 2021-2027). European officials have clarified that already 1 billion euros will be available since 2021.
The other axis is the vaccination of the citizens of the Western Balkans. So far, the European Union has distributed 2.9 million doses of vaccines, while according to European officials, the goal is to achieve the same level of vaccination in the region as in the European Union. On the other hand, European Union officials have focused on helping with the economic and social consequences of the pandemic in the region. According to them, the European Union is already offering 3.3 billion euros to help countries in the region cope with these consequences.
European officials have outlined other steps in the framework of regional cooperation, such as achieving a reduction in roaming tariffs between the Western Balkan countries, with the aim of achieving roaming later between the Western Balkan countries and the European Union. According to these sources, transport projects, interconnection between countries in the region, the fight against illegal immigration, corruption and organized crime will also be on the table of European Union leaders.
The 27 European leaders will hold their summit on October 5, and on October 6, they will be joined by the leaders of the region. A final press conference will be held at the end by European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Slovenian Prime Minister Janes Jansa.