The Berlin Process Forum of Economy Ministers convened in Tirana on September 26th, 2023, to deliberate the progression of the Common Regional Market (CRM) as a pathway towards integrating with the EU Single Market. Discussions revolved around the strides made, focal points, and hurdles faced while executing the Action Plan for CRM under Albania's guidance of the Berlin Process.
The alignment of Western Balkans with the EU Single Market has been significantly bolstered through various trade accords, pushing for further integration. Economic synchronization is viewed as a shared advantage for both the region and the EU. Expansion into individual EU programs and initiatives, accentuating trade in goods, e-commerce, and sustainable value chains, is a prospective advancement.
The forum acknowledged the EU's integration efforts and accentuated the necessity for enhanced regional connectivity and infrastructure upgrades. A roadmap is in the works to advance EU-Western Balkans border management and trade facilitation, with an emphasis on the integration of SMEs into multinational supply chains and regional partnerships.
Efforts to bolster youth employability and economic upswing through the Regional Challenge Fund were lauded. The ministers underscored the prospective impact of the EU’s New Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, envisioning strengthened collaborations in digital transformation and green initiatives. Several initiatives embedded in the Growth Plan, including the integration into the European Raw Materials Alliance and enhancing regional entrepreneurs’ readiness for the Single Market, were spotlighted.
The ministers reemphasized the significance of the CRM Action Plan, a blueprint inspired by the EU’s four freedoms – the movement of goods, services, people, and capital. The accomplishments to date, including the signing of a roaming agreement and establishment of Green Corridors, have enhanced regional economic integration. The need for swift adoption and implementation of arrangements agreed under the CEFTA framework was underscored.
Payment systems' integration is deemed essential for market functionality, and SEPA membership is viewed as a pivotal step for the Western Balkans. The ministers expressed unanimous support for prioritizing actions aimed at fulfilling SEPA requirements, which would facilitate instant payments and bolster the FinTech industry in the region.
The annex outlined commitments across various sectors, including trade, goods and services movement, capital, people, regional investment, digital area, innovation, industrial area, and sustainable tourism. These commitments are envisioned to accelerate regional cooperation and EU integration, underscoring the strategic alignment of economic and infrastructural initiatives with EU standards and policies.
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