EU-WB Summit Brussels Declaration: Transport and Connectivity Are Essential for Economic Development, Closer Integration

BRUSSELS – The EU-Western Balkans Summit took place on Wednesday, 13 December, in Brussels gathering the leaders of the region and the EU. The summit reconfirmed the key importance of the strategic partnership between the EU and the Western Balkans and reaffirmed the EU membership perspective of the Western Balkans as well as the need for sustained and irreversible reform achievements.

The Transport Community Permanent Secretariat applauses the conclusions outlined in the declaration which builds on the work of the Transport Community and encourages regional partners to proceed in an ambitious manner with the needed reforms.

“Transport and connectivity are essential for economic development, as they foster better regional integration and improve relations between neighbours. Through the Transport Community, the EU has opened the possibility for closer integration of the Western Balkans in the field of transport, in particular through regulatory reforms. In this regard, the EU encourages the partners to proceed in an ambitious manner with the needed reforms,” the Declaration outlines.

The EU welcomed the high-level agreements revising the indicative extension of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) to the Western Balkans and the proposal to establish the Western Balkans-Eastern Mediterranean European Transport Corridor.

Moreover, the Declaration pointed out that the EU will support Western Balkan partners in integrating road transport markets on the basis of the adoption of the relevant EU acquis.

“We also welcome the progress made in terms of the implementation of EU-Western Balkans Green Lanes and call for their application at all relevant borders, while fully respecting the EU acquis and procedures,” the document highlighted and added that the EU welcomes the establishment of the Blue Lanes initiative that will improve trade and transport connections among Adriatic ports.

“These initiatives contribute to better border management, reduced waiting times for passengers and freight, and hence bolster economic activity. They underline the positive impact of furthering customs cooperation between the EU and the Western Balkans,” it was underlined. The EU acknowledged the efforts of the Transport Community and CEFTA in developing a Roadmap for implementing Green Lanes and synchronised border controls.

Finally, the Declaration outlines that the EU is dedicated to supporting the modernisation of the railway network in the region and encourages Western Balkan efforts to reinstate passenger rail connections between major cities in the region as well as between the region and its EU neighbours.

To read the full Declaration, please click here.

Photo: European Union