• Sunday, 25 February 2024

Besimi: Foundations of reform agenda within Growth Plan for Western Balkans have been laid, we continue to do our homework

Besimi: Foundations of reform agenda within Growth Plan for Western Balkans have been laid, we continue to do our homework

Brussels, 23 November 2023 (MIA) – The country will spare no effort, in coordination with the European Commission, to do its homework at the required level and in the shortest possible time concerning the obligations related to the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, so that with the implementation of the reforms, citizens and businesses see the benefits from it as soon as possible, Finance Minister Fatmir Besimi told MIA after the first preparatory meeting in Brussels with EC representatives focusing on the basic elements of the reform agenda that should be prepared for the implementation of projects from the EU's Growth Plan for the Western Balkans. 


"Our delegation presented the reform activities in the priority areas in line with the defined Growth Plan for the Western Balkans. We had a really useful meeting outlining the basic elements on which we should focus in the preparation of our reform agenda within the implementation process of the Plan," Besimi said after the bilateral meetings in which North Macedonia and other countries from the region presented their reform agendas. 


According to Besimi, the process is taking place at an accelerated pace and desired dynamics, so in less than 10 days, two steps in the process were realized, which confirms that the commitment on both sides is at a high level.


"The Growth Plan itself is based on four pillars, i.e. areas, including integration with the EU's single market, regional cooperation, fundamental reforms and financial assistance," Besimi added.   


According to him, in addition to European integration as the Government's top priority, the Plan places a greater focus on priority reforms and on EU support for their implementation. This agenda will include structural reforms from the latest Economic Reform Programme (ERP) and the related Joint Conclusions agreed at the Economic and Financial Dialogue, as well as the revised enlargement methodology, with the latest Enlargement Package and the Economic-Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. 


"Deadlines are relatively short. Western Balkan countries are expected to submit the concept of reforms to the European Commission by December 6, so that it can evaluate and accept them. Then, they will be submitted to the Council of the EU, which will review them at the EU-Western Balkans Summit on December 13," Besimi said, adding that the full reform agenda should be completed by the start of the second quarter of 2024, after which concrete implementation of the reforms will follow according to the dynamics set as well as payment of funds to support their implementation.


The Finance Minister points out that the European Commission's Growth Plan for the Western Balkans includes financial support for the countries of the region of up to EUR 6 billion for a period of four years, of which up to EUR 900 million will be available to North Macedonia. 


"So in other words, this is a relatively ambitious plan, as an added value in relation to what is being done so far, and it is a fairly high sum of money. In four years, EUR 6 billion for the Western Balkans, consisting of EUR 2 billion in grants and EUR 4 billion in concessional loans," Besimi told MIA.  


The Secretariat for European Affairs and the Ministry of Finance will monitor the implementation of the reform process in the country.


Photo: MIA archive


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