BRUSSELS – President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated that the future of the Western Balkans is in the EU during her first annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament.
“Trust is the foundation of a strong partnership, and Europe will always be ready to build strong partnerships with our closest neighbours. This starts with the Western Balkans”, said von der Leyen, immediately after stressing the problems of trust EU currently has with the United Kingdom over the trade agreement negotiations.
She reflected on the most significant achievement with regards to the EU integration of the region in the past year.
“The decision six months ago to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia was truly historical. Indeed, the future of the whole region is in the European Union. We share the same history, we share the same destiny”, von der Leyen said.
She added that the Western Balkans are part of Europe and not just a stopover on the Silk Road.
“We will soon present the Economic Recovery Package for the region, focusing on the number of investment initiatives and we will be there for the Eastern Partnership countries and our Southern Neighbours as well”, von der Leyen concluded.
The speech also focused on the EU’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, digital economy, environment and the Union’s relations with China and the United States.