The meeting, that took place ahead of the June European Council, built on the existing close ties between the EU and the Western Balkans.
Leaders discussed progress on EU integration and the challenges stemming from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
This is an important moment because there is a very strong political will to re-energise the process with the Western Balkans, to send a very clear and strong message.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council
Leaders took stock of progress on key investments under the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans (EIP) and discussed geostrategic issues.
The meeting was also an opportunity to:
- explore ways to foster people-to-people contacts
- promote alignment with EU values and the common foreign and security policy (CFSP).
EU leaders expressed their unambiguous support for integrating the Western Balkans in the EU.
Geopolitical events created the momentum to take new steps in cooperation on the European continent.
Building on the EU’s revised enlargement methodology, the meeting’s objectives included:
- exploring innovative ways to advance the accession talks
- incentivising reform
- making progress in the gradual integration between the EU and the Western Balkans region.
Russia’s war against Ukraine
The meeting was also an opportunity for leaders to deepen further cooperation in the face of common challenges stemming from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Leaders identified key actions to
- improve the resilience of the Western Balkan partners to hybrid threats (in particular cyber-threats and disinformation)
- shield them from turmoil in the energy and food markets.
EU and Western Balkan leaders took stock of progress on key investments under the EIP.
The EIP provides critical funding for the region to meet geostrategic challenges. Its objectives are to:
- enhance connectivity and energy security
- leverage private sector investment to support the green and digital transformation
The leaders’ meeting was an opportunity to promote action aimed at creating opportunities for young people and tackling ‘brain drain’ in the region.
The aim is to strengthen a sense of belonging to the same community among citizens in the EU and in the Western Balkans region.
Leaders exchanged views on foreign policy and alignment with EU CFSP.
They discussed how to limit Russia’s influence in the region and combat Russian propaganda and disinformation.
The leaders’ meeting is part of the implementation of the European Council’s 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda.
The latest meeting between EU and Western Balkans Leaders was the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Brdo pri Kranju in October 2021. It was hosted by the Slovenian presidency of the Council.