Leaders from Western Balkans, EU, meet to discuss growth plan, reforms

Participants of a summit of leaders of the Western Balkans and the European Union on growth plan for the Western Balkans pose for a family photo in Kotor, Montenegro, on May 16, 2024. [Stevo Vasiljevic/Reuters]

The six Western Balkan countries brought together by the European Union met in Montenegro's Adriatic resort of Kotor on Thursday to see how to speed up reforms, create their own single market and ultimately join the bloc.

Having been promised EU membership years ago, the accession process across the region comprising Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia has slowed to a crawl, mainly because of reluctance among the EU's 27 members and a lack of reform throughout the region.

The EU wants to use a common growth plan worth 6 billion euros ($6.52 billion) to help the countries of the Western Balkans form a regional common market and join European common market in areas such as free movement of goods and services, transport and energy.

But they must implement reforms and resolve outstanding issues with their neighbors.

"Growth plan...

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