EU support for the Western Balkans at 2015 Summit in Vienna
The Summit will build on the progress made since the Berlin Summit in August last year, and will seek to further develop the co-operation between the 6 Western Balkans countries.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič and Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will represent the European Union at the Western Balkans Summit in Vienna, tomorrow 27 August, hosted by Austrian Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann.
The Summit will build on the progress made since the Berlin Summit in August last year, and will seek to further develop the co-operation between the 6 Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia) in dealing with their common challenges, notably migration – one of the main topics of the Summit, which also include regional cooperation and religious dialogue and anti-extremism. The Summit will include parallel sessions for the Heads of Governments, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Economy.
At the Heads of Governments’ session the Prime Ministers will discuss the current economic situation in the region, youth/vocational education and connectivity. High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini will participate at this session. She said “The Western Balkans region faces many challenges, from the urgency to tackle security and migration issues to the need to address economic and political difficulties in many countries. The Western Balkans Summit in Vienna will give us an important opportunity not only to discuss the present challenges, but also our common future”.
Commissioner Hahn, together with Foreign Ministers will discuss current priority issues in regional cooperation, and the current migration-related challenges. Commissioner Hahn said: “We have seen remarkable progress on our joint connectivity agenda since the Summit in Berlin last year and we have now identified concrete priority investment projects in the region, which could receive support from the Instrument of Pre-Accession.”
Vice-President Šefčovič and Economic Ministers will debate economic prospects of the region, and energy and transport connectivity as well as vocational training. Vice President Šefčovič said: “Our Energy Union Strategy states very clearly that the Energy Union does not stop at the Union’s borders. That’s why we spare no effort to better connect the Western Balkans to our own energy systems. That’s the message I passed when I was recently in Serbia, and this is my message at the Summit as well.”
€1.5 million in humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants in the Western Balkans
Ahead of the Summit, today the European Commission is releasing an additional €1.5 million in humanitarian funding to assist refugees and migrants in Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The aid will support humanitarian partners in helping with the provision of basic emergency services such as drinking water, hygiene, health care, shelter, and protection for refugees and migrants, improvement of the reception centres, and coordination and reporting on migration issues in the region. Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said: “The Western Balkans are dealing with an unprecedented number of transiting refugees and migrants. The EU is stepping up its humanitarian aid to provide them with urgently needed relief. This is European solidarity at its core”.
The European Commission has previously granted over €90 000 in EU humanitarian assistance to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (on July 31 2015) and €150 000 to Serbia (on August 20, 2015) in response to this emergency situation. The funding went directly to the national Red Cross Societies of the two countries. Overall EU humanitarian aid to support vulnerable refugees and migrants in Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia now amounts to €1.74 million.
In its European Agenda on Migration, the European Commission has set out a comprehensive approach to addressing migration challenges, both in the short and long term. Cooperation and support of third countries, especially those that are in our immediate vicinity, is an essential element of that approach.
The Summit will be hosted by Austrian Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann, who has invited the Prime Ministers of the Western Balkan 6 (Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) as well as of Germany, France, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia to the event.
For more information
The conclusions of the Vienna Summit will be made available on the website of the European Commission here. The event will also be covered by EbS.