BRUSSELS – The European Commission is proposing an increase in pre-accession IPA funds (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance) for the countries of the Western Balkans in the next EU budget and is preparing an economic plan for the region, said EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, presenting the Union’s foreign policy financial plan.
The new budget envisages 14.5 billion euros of pre-accession assistance for the countries of the Balkans and Turkey, in relation to the 11.7 billion that was allocated in the period from 2014 to 2020, Várhelyi said.
In addition, Várhelyi announced the proposal of the European Commission to allocate an additional billion euros from the current budget, which the countries in the neighborhood of the EU and the Western Balkans could use to combat the economic consequences of the pandemic. He adds that they are trying to prevent the widening of the economic gap after the pandemic.
“All this will enable us to come out in the fall with a significant economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans, to start working on connections in the field of energy, transport, on the green agenda, as well as to include the region in the EU digital agenda and bring it as close as possible to the EU economy,” Várhelyi said.
European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement emphasized that the goal of the economic and investment plan is to reduce and completely compensate for the fact that the Western Balkan countries are falling behind the EU average.
“Of course, the situation is different when you are a member of the EU, because then you can count on the full solidarity of all other members. As far as I understand, that is one of the reasons why the Balkan countries want to be part of the EU,” Várhelyi concluded.
The proposal for economic recovery called NextGenerationEU for the period 2021-2027 refers to the growing needs for humanitarian aid in the most vulnerable parts of the world.