CEFTA and Common Regional Market Instruments for the accelerated integration of the Western Balkans into the EU Single Market

May 16, 2024

Kotor, 16 May 2024 – The Regional Western Balkans Leaders’ meeting, under the slogan “One Region, Common Vision,” was held in Kotor. This event gathered Western Balkan leaders, along with representatives of numerous organisations and key figures involved in the EU accession processes. The meeting focused on discussing and implementing the two main pillars of the EU’s Growth Plan for the Western Balkans. Danijela Gačević, the acting director of the CEFTA Secretariat, attended the meeting, which was hosted by the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milojko Spajić.

The expansion of the Common Regional Market and early access to the EU Single Market are essential for accelerating both the economic progress of the region and the EU accession process, according to Gačević.

“In today’s discussions, we explored strategic ways to leverage CEFTA and Common Regional Market to advance the region’s ambition to get closer to the EU Single Market. This includes addressing truck queues at the crossing points with the EU by extending CEFTA-TCT Green Lanes. Additionally, we are advancing discussions on conformity assessment agreements, which can be thought of as effectively removing visas to export our industrial products. CEFTA also support efforts relevant to enabling regional use of e-identification tools such as e-signatures as well as facilitating the movement of critical medicine.” stated Gačević.

Following fruitful summits in Skopje and Tirana, leaders from the Western Balkans endorsed the Declaration, reinforcing their commitment to the full implementation of the Common Regional Market Action Plan and outlining priority areas for the forthcoming plan. This new agenda will concentrate on enhancing trade by facilitating the unrestricted movement of goods and services within CEFTA. Additionally, it will focus on developing human capital, improving the business environment and competitiveness, and advancing digital transformation.

The Declaration also commended the progress made in the CEFTA-TCT Green Lanes while encouraging CEFTA Parties to finalize negotiations on Additional Protocol 7 on Dispute Settlement (AP7).

During the meeting, Gačević reiterated CEFTA’s commitment to strengthening regional economies, promoting economic integration, boosting trade, enhancing digitisation, and improving regional cooperation. She concluded that CEFTA will continue to advocate for economic integration and in the region’s services as it moves towards the EU.

To recall, the European Commission’s recently adopted New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans acknowledges CEFTA as the key mechanism for delivering the Common Regional Market, one of the key pillars of the Plan.

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