EU announces €3.3 billion in support for the Western Balkans

European Commission; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – The European Commission announced today a €3.3 billion financial support package for the Western Balkans on Wednesday, mobilized jointly with the European Investment Bank.

“This package aims to address the immediate health and resulting humanitarian needs of the coronavirus pandemic as well as help with the social and economic recovery,” it si stated in a press release.

The Commission said it was outlining the parameters for long-term support ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb, which will be presented later this year as an Economic and Investment plan for the region.

The press release quoted Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as saying that the European Union has a special responsibility to assist the Western Balkans during the pandemic “as their future clearly lies in European Union”.

“The EU is mobilizing a substantial financial package, confirming the strong solidarity. Together we will overcome this crisis and recover. And beyond that, we will continue to support the region, including with the reforms needed on their EU path, as the recovery will only work effectively if the countries keep delivering on their commitments,” she said.

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, recalled that the EU acted quickly and comprehensively to help the region combat the pandemic “with unparalleled financial assistance as well as access to many of the EU’s initiatives”.

“And our work will continue as we prepare an Economic and Investment Plan for the region, to tackle the hard socio-economic impact of the crisis, to modernise the economies in the region, support the reforms and start closing the development gap, thus bringing concrete benefits to the people faster,” said Várhelyi.