Common Regional Market for Closer EU Integration

February 29, 2024

Tirana – Regional Summit “Growth and Convergence for the Western Balkans” held yesterday in Tirana, gathered the leaders of the Western Balkan economies, as well as other organizations and key actors in the EU accession processes with the aim to make concrete individual and joint steps towards fulfilling the two main pillars of the new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans.

“The new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans provides a link between CEFTA’s work in the framework for the Common Regional Market and access to EU Single Market. Most tangible example of this link is extension of the Green Lanes to the border crossings with the neighbouring EU markets and other customs cooperation arrangements which will make these crossing more efficient”, highlighted Danijela Gačević, acting director of CEFTA.

The meeting in Tirana followed the “Western Balkans Meets EU” meeting in Skopje, as well as the Western Balkans Investment Summit by EBRD in London and represents a message that the region has reached a new level of maturity and stability.

“The implementation of the current Common Regional Market Action Plan and the development of the new one are vital for creating new trade opportunities, attracting investment, and enhancing cooperation in CEFTA and with the EU,” stated Gačević.

CEFTA is working on more than 20 initiatives which are expected to deliver concrete benefits for businesses and people in the region. The leaders of the Western Balkans and European Union will jointly chose which of these are to be extended to our relationship with the EU. In addition to Green Lanes, CEFTA’s work will be essential in so call ACAA agreements, which allow visa-free travel for industrial goods, facilitation of electronic, removing geo-blocking, etc.

The recently adopted European Commission’s New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans recognizes CEFTA as the central governance mechanism for managing the Common Regional Market. Out of four Growth Plan’s pillars, CEFTA will be focused on two referring to enhancing economic integration within the Western Balkans and with the EU. These strategic goals positions CEFTA to play a pivotal role in linking the region to the EU Single Market, prioritising free movement of goods, services and workers, access to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and Digital Single Market.

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