The Trieste Summit – Stepping up regional cooperation

Trieste; Photo: Pixabay

BRUSSELS – The Trieste Summit will be an opportunity to discuss concrete avenues to strengthen regional cooperation and to further advance the EU integration process of the Western Balkans.

The 2017 Western Balkans Summit will take place on 12 July in Trieste, Italy and it will serve as an important occasion to work together on strengthening concrete opportunities while fostering regional cooperation with the aim of developing inclusive societies, good governance and vibrant economies.

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, and Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc will participate together with Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Economy and Ministers of Transport of the Western Balkans and their counterparts from 6 EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia).

Discussions will focus on three key areas of regional cooperation, connectivity, regional economic integration / private sector development and people-to-people contacts.

In the area of connectivity, focus will be on the implementation of the Connectivity Agenda, which aims at creating conditions for economic growth and good neighbourly relations, in particular through the preparation and financing of concrete regional infrastructure investment projects in the transport and energy sectors.

Moreover, the Western Balkans partners are expected to sign the Transport Community Treaty, which will help integrate the transport networks in the region and with the EU and guide related reform measures in the transport sector.

On regional economic integration, the Western Balkan partners are expected to agree on an action plan to develop a Regional Economic Area aimed at boosting the attractiveness of the region to encourage investment and generate jobs, especially through smart growth, start-ups and scale-ups

The Chamber Investment Forum of the Western Balkans, which gathers chambers of commerce of the region, will inaugurate its Permanent Secretariat in Trieste at the margin of the Summit: the involvement of the business community will contribute to translating the Regional Economic Area into concrete opportunities for companies in the region.

Regarding people-to-people contacts, the European Commission together with the Italian Government is organising an EU-Western Balkans Youth forum in the margins of the Summit to take stock of the results achieved since last year and explore further areas of cooperation.

Based on the outcomes of the youth forum, the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) will further develop its work programme to foster cooperation among young people of the region.

During the Summit, political leaders are further expected to reconfirm their commitment to an exchange scheme for young civil servants from the region, which was launched at last year’s Western Balkans Summit in Paris and has shown very positive results.

Italy is hosting the fourth annual Summit in the framework of the “Berlin Process”, an initiative for regional cooperation in the Western Balkans, which follows the Summits in Berlin (2014), Vienna (2015) and Paris (2016).