Zovko calls on Commission to include trade preferences in the Western Balkan Economic and Investment Plan
Brussels 6 October 2020,
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi presented the 2020 Enlargement Package and the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans in the European Parliament. Željana Zovko welcomed the initiative and said that the plan will reinforce our continued support for the WB6 countries on their road to formal membership.
The Western Balkan economic and investment plan will be financed through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance III (IPA III). Zovko, who is the co-rapporteur on IPA III, noted that the Parliament and the Council are still in the process of negotiations of this instrument. “We are working on a stronger involvement for the European Parliament in the governance and oversight.”
On the economic and investment plan, Zovko stated in the meeting that the plan is focused primarily on substantial EU investment grants but also on International Financial institutional loans, which are de facto contributions of WB6 countries themselves since they have to pay back this debt. “It would be good if we can also include trade preferences to this package. The EU remains by far the biggest trading partner of the Western Balkans accounting for 69% of total trade in goods in 2019 but they are experiencing a trade imbalance. Trade preferences could address this issue and provide a larger growth impetus than foreign direct investment alone.”
Regarding the assessment on Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 2020 Communication on EU enlargement policy, Zovko noted that the Commission only mentioned international court decisions and overlooked the state constitutional court decisions. Zovko underlined that these are equally important to have a credible electoral law and credible elections in the country.