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S&Ds: Growth plan for Western Balkans gives fresh impetus to enlargement

Date

24 Apr 2024

Sections

InfoSociety

The Socialists and Democrats welcome the establishment of the Reform and Growth Facility for the Western Balkans, endorsed today by the European Parliament. This is the centrepiece of the growth plan for the region, proposed by the European Commission in November 2023. 

It is expected to provide up to €2 billion in grants and €4 billion in loans to the Western Balkan countries in the period 2024-2027, complementing the existing pre-accession assistance and thus considerably increasing financial assistance to the region.

As the Commission presented the proposal very late and there was a push to reach an agreement during this legislature, the European Parliament went through the file with unprecedented speed, which has proved to be both technically and politically demanding.

Tonino Picula, EP rapporteur on the growth plan for the Western Balkans in the European Parliament's committee on foreign affairs, said:

The growth plan for the Western Balkans gives a fresh impetus to the enlargement process based on the rule of law, transparency and reforms as the only means of bringing these countries closer to the EU.  We insisted on the importance of full alignment with EU foreign policy, including restrictive measures, for the progress on the path towards the EU. It depends on the political leaders in the Western Balkans to have the political will to reach all these goals, but this has to be backed by us with financial means.

Eider Gardizabal Rubial, S&D negotiator on the growth plan for the Western Balkans in the European Parliament’s committee on budgets, added: 

We, the Socialists and Democrats, proved we stand behind the EU future of the Western Balkans not just in words, but also in deeds. Our political group made sure that the growth plan would promote democracy, human rights and gender equality in the region and progressively align it with the social, climate and environmental standards of the Union. We did it with the vote today in the plenary of the European Parliament and I am proud of the work done by the Socialists and Democrats during the negotiations on this matter.

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