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EU and Germany Pledge €1.5 Billion for Climate Initiatives in the Western Balkans 

During the Berlin Process summit in Tirana, the European Union unveiled its Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, which includes significant financial backing.

Simultaneously, Germany committed to additional funding focused on climate change mitigation and promoting renewable energy.

This meeting marked the first of its kind in a non-EU member nation, Albania. Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, emphasised the event’s success but acknowledged the ongoing work ahead.

She stated, “Our objective is to align our economies more closely and expedite accession-related reforms. Our Growth Plan, if fully realised, could potentially double the Western Balkan economies within this decade.” She highlighted that their current economic state stands at 35% of the EU average.

Von der Leyen laid out the four central tenets of the Growth Plan: the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU’s single market, the establishment of a shared regional market, enacting necessary reforms, and securing appropriate funding.

She elaborated on the significance of reforms, asserting that for the Western Balkans to gain access to the EU’s single market, standardised rules and norms must be in place. Successful implementation of these reforms would trigger enhanced EU investment. “We’re suggesting a €6 billion investment package, split into €2 billion in grants and €4 billion in loans,” she clarified.

Additionally, areas like customs collaboration, digital commerce, electronic payments, road transport, energy, and mobile roaming could be made accessible to the Western Balkans within the EU single market.

Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, introduced a climate partnership between Germany and the Western Balkans. He confirmed Germany’s commitment to allocate €1.5 billion by 2030 to support the region’s efforts in combatting climate change and bolstering renewable energy. Furthermore, an additional €73 million has been earmarked for a new renewable energy scheme in Albania.

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