West Balkan woes: Though the EU has committed to starting accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania last year, it remains unrealistic that any Western Balkan country will join the EU within the next years. Taking this into account, how can the EU still facilitate regional economic growth and revive the European perspective for these countries?

Submitted by: Chiury de Nijs, Elena Stunda, Eline Dijkman, Róisín Clancy, Storm Visser, Jędrzej Cader (Chairperson, PL)

The European Youth Parliament,

  1. Appreciating the need for a country-specific approach to the Western Balkan region,
  2. Aware of the sluggish economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in the Western Balkan region,
  3. Paying tribute to the right of Member States to voice their concerns regarding the EU accession of Western Balkan nations such as North Macedonia and Albania, as it is laid out in Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),
  4. Concerned by the high unemployment in the Western Balkan regions, especially among younger generations,
  5. Gravely concerned by the prevalence of criminal organisations in the region, engaging in crimes such as:
    1. drug trafficking,
    2. trafficking in human beings,
  6. Noting with regret the lack of media freedom in many Western Balkan countries,
  7. Regretting the high levels of corruption in the Western Balkan region, slowing down economic growth,
  8. Alarmed by the lack of progress in the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue regarding Serbia not recognising Kosovo as a nation;

  1. Invites Member States to promote and organise regular summits together with Western Balkan countries following the example of the Brno Summit of 2021, specifically focusing on:
    1. improving bilateral relations between individual Western Balkan states, with their neighbours, and with the EU,
    2. addressing particular topics hindering the accession progress, such as corruption or limited media freedom;
  2. Urges the European Commission to focus current as well as future investment plans, such as its European Investment Plan (EIP), on the improvement and expansion of general infrastructure in Western Balkan countries;
  3. Seeks for the European Council to express regret concerning citizens’ general distrust in their local governments, for example towards the Albanian government regarding the COVID-19 pandemic;
  4. Calls upon the European Commission to extend its pro-vaccination campaigns to the Western Balkans;
  5. Encourages the Western Balkan countries to introduce monetary incentives for multinational corporations (MNCs) to move to the Western Balkans, for instance by lowering the corporate tax rate;
  6. Urges the Western Balkan states to promote tourism in the area by:
    1. collaborating with European TV broadcasting companies as well as streaming services to create promotional videos portraying various tourist attractions in the Western Balkan region,
    2. encouraging local governments to allocate funds from grants and investment plans to the tourist industry;
  7. Calls upon the European Commission to amend Article 49 TEU to also require countries wishing to accede to the EU to uphold and commit to EU values;
  8. Calls upon Europol and Frontex to collaborate on a project that is aimed at combatting drug and human trafficking in Member States and border regions, which would:
    1. support Europol in its existing efforts to battle drug trafficking within Member States in accordance with EU drug policy,
    2. help to enforce the EU Anti Trafficking Directive of 2011,
    3. collaborate with Western Balkan countries and existing non-governmental organisations that are addressing this issue;
  9. Strongly urges Western Balkan countries to revise, expand, and enforce their media and press freedom laws with the aim of meeting the Copenhagen Accession Criteria;
  10. Encourage Western Balkan countries to combat corruption by:
    1. extending the political and economic education in the region’s educational systems,
    2. further facilitating the collaboration of EU and Western Balkan higher education institutions, for instance, with regards to student exchanges;
  11. Urges the European Council to proclaim that Serbia will not be able to advance in any accession negotiations until it recognises Kosovo as a completely sovereign and independent state.