Regional Leaders` Summit: “One region, Common vision”

Regional Western Balkans Leaders Meeting on the Growth Plan: A Step Towards Regional Integration and Economic Growth

Kotor, Montenegro – May 15-16, 2024

Building upon the success of previous summits in Skopje and Tirana, Montenegro proudly hosted the Regional Western Balkans Leaders Meeting on the Growth Plan. This significant gathering brought together leaders from the six Western Balkans countries, along with representatives from the European Commission, Regional Cooperation Council, Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Bank, Transport Community, Energy Community, and the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum (WB6 CIF). The aim was to engage in constructive discussions on the opportunities presented by the Growth Plan and the Reform Agendas, with a focus as well at the Common Regional Market.

The delegation of the WB6 CIF was led by the Chairman Mr. Lulzim Rafuna.

The successful implementation of the New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans promises to strengthen economic cooperation within the region, providing tangible benefits through access to the EU Single Market. By fostering closer economic integration, the region can unlock its vast investment potential, promoting sustainable development and prosperity.

 Ministerial Meeting: “One Region, Common Vision”

On May 15, 2024, the meeting of Western Balkans Ministers of European Affairs and Finance was held in Kotor, Montenegro, under the theme “One Region, Common Vision.” This ministerial meeting, a precursor to the Leaders’ Summit, emphasized the importance of regional cooperation and economic integration within the Growth Plan framework.

The Chairman of the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum (WB6 CIF) Mr. Lulzim Rafuna highlighted the transformative potential of a Common Regional Market for the Western Balkans 6 during his address at the “One Region, Common Vision” meeting.

“By aligning our efforts and resources towards a common objective, we unlock a myriad of opportunities for economic growth and prosperity. Central to our collective vision is the establishment of a Common Regional Market, a transformative platform that transcends borders and fosters a seamless flow of goods, services, and investments across our region, which serves as a catalyst for economic development, driving innovation, creating jobs, and bolstering trade within and beyond our borders and amplifies the attractiveness of our region to foreign direct investment (FDI).

By presenting a unified market with harmonized regulations and standards, we enhance investors’ confidence and stimulate inflows of capital that fuel economic expansion and infrastructure development. “stated Mr. Lulzim Rafuna

The Chairman Mr. Lulzim Rafuna underscored the importance of the full implementation of the Common Regional Market as a top priority for businesses in Western Balkans region, aligning efforts with the New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans.

“As we chart our course forward, let us reaffirm our unwavering commitment to realizing this common vision for the Western Balkans 6. Let us seize the opportunity to harness the transformative power of a Common Regional Market, leveraging our collective strengths to build a future of shared prosperity and opportunity for generations to come.”- concluded Mr. Lulzim Rafuna

Leaders’ Summit: Endorsing a Unified Future

The Leaders’ Summit on May 16, 2024, also held in Kotor, Montenegro, culminated with the endorsement of a joint statement by the leaders of the Western Balkans Six. The leaders of the Western Balkans Six (WB6) reaffirmed their commitment to regional cooperation and EU integration, emphasizing the importance of the New Growth Plan and the Common Regional Market (CRM).

They reemphasized their commitment to regional cooperation and leveraging renewed momentum in the EU’s enlargement policy. The leaders welcomed the adoption of the Reform and Growth Facility by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, which incentivizes the EU accession path of the Western Balkans by providing additional financial assistance upon implementing fundamental reforms. In synergy with EU partners, the preparation of respective Reform Agendas for each Western Balkan country is well underway, aiming to achieve crucial socio-economic reforms while fostering democracy, fundamental values, and the rule of law as prerequisites for regional stability and prosperity. With the New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, the leaders are committed to embracing the opportunities presented by this initiative, facilitating economic and social transformation, and paving the way for full EU membership while upholding the merit-based principle of accession.

The unwavering effort that WB6 CIF is putting in, together with the partners for the Common Regional Action Plan as a stepping stone for the Western Balkans into the EU Single Market received the appreciation from the leaders for the tangible results that CRM produced and the upcoming focus on the New Common Regional AP 2.0.

Common Regional Market (CRM): Achievements and Future Priorities

The leaders appreciated the tangible results produced by the CRM and are committed to completing the first iteration of the CRM Action Plan by the end of 2024. They call for the full implementation of past agreements and commit to endorsing the new CRM Action Plan for 2025-2028 at the Berlin Process Leaders’ Summit 2024. This new phase will serve as a stepping-stone towards the EU Single Market, unlocking economic potential and creating opportunities for the private sector, SMEs, and workers.

The second iteration of the CRM Action Plan will build on existing priorities, including the free movement of goods and services, horizontal trade measures, human capital development, business enabling environment and competitiveness, and digital transformation. The importance of ongoing collaboration among the parties involved for the preparation of CRM AP 2.0 was emphasized.

Commitment to Regional Cooperation

Mr.Lulzim Rafuna,  during his discussion emphasized the importance of regional cooperation for economic advancement and European integration. He appreciated the joint efforts and commitment of various actors in promoting sustainable development and improving the well-being of the region. Special emphasis was placed on the development of the private sector and businesses in the region, which are the promoters of these processes.

The active involvement and leadership of WB6 CIF at the Summit underscore our commitment to fostering closer regional integration and economic cooperation.

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