The Growth Plan for the Western Balkans entered into force: Two annual payments, subject to the conditions being met

In early May, the EU Council gave the final green light to the establishment of the Western Balkans Reform and Growth Fund, a new instrument to support EU-related reforms and economic growth in the region.

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Council of Europe building, Photo: Shutterstock
Council of Europe building, Photo: Shutterstock
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The European Union (EU) growth plan for the Western Balkans, which provides access to additional financial assistance of six billion euros, entered into force today.

European Commissioner for Enlargement Oliver Varhelji announced last night on the X network that the Instrument for Reform and Growth for the Western Balkans is entering into force. Varhelji wrote in a post on platform X that "the Western Balkan six are working diligently to finalize six reform agendas and reforms".

In early May, the EU Council gave the final green light to the establishment of the Western Balkans Reform and Growth Fund, a new instrument to support EU-related reforms and economic growth in the region.

Partners from the Western Balkans are invited to submit their Reform Agendas to the Commission, outlining the socioeconomic and fundamental reforms they plan to undertake in the next three years.

EU member states will have the main say in approving financial resources.

Payments will be made twice a year, provided that the partners meet the qualitative and quantitative steps specified in their Reform Agendas.

When the preconditions for support are not met or are no longer met, the EU may decide to suspend the release of funds.

The goal of the Growth Plan for the region

The growth plan for the Western Balkans will cover the period between 2024 and 2027. It is planned to provide six billion euros for the countries of the region.

Of this sum, two billion euros are in the form of grants or grants, and the remaining four billion euros are in the form of loans with very favorable installments.

European Union, EU
photo: Shutterstock

The Council of the EU previously stated that the main goal is to support the harmonization of partners from the Western Balkans with the values, laws, rules, standards, policies and practices of the EU, with the aim of future membership in the EU, as well as their progressive integration into the single European market, as and socio-economic convergence with the EU.

Financial resources are planned to support a number of socio-economic and fundamental reforms, including reforms related to the rule of law and fundamental rights.

Financial aid is not unconditional

In order to receive support within these instruments, countries from the region must prepare a Reform Agenda, stating the reforms they plan to undertake in order to achieve the goals.

Special attention should be paid to how the countries of the Western Balkans, among the measures in the Reform Agenda, will contribute to progressive and continuous alignment with the EU's common foreign and security policy.

General preconditions for EU support under the Growth Plan include continued support and respect for effective democratic mechanisms, including a multiparty parliamentary system, free and fair elections, pluralistic media, an independent judiciary and the rule of law, as well as guaranteeing respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities.

Serbia and Kosovo have one more condition, which refers to the normalization of relations.

According to the adopted decision, in order for these two countries to benefit from the Growth Plan, they must engage constructively "with measurable progress and tangible results" in the normalization of their relations in order to fully implement all the obligations arising from the Agreement on the Road to Normalization and the Implementation Annex. as well as all previous agreements on dialogue, and to join the negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Normalization of Relations.

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