The EU’s new Balkan strategy should be viewed as more of a motivational tool than as a real roadmap, even for frontrunners Montenegro and Serbia.
Albania's population contracted 0.2% in 2017 after briefly rising in 2016, but is forecast to fall dramatically by the end of this century driven to a large extent by mass migration.
Better transportation, energy, and telecommunications networks would help Western Balkan countries raise productivity and attract more investment, IMF says.
Funding decision made despite heavy pressure from environmental groups who argued that the development bank should avoid investing in major fossil fuel projects.
The strategy comes after years of neglecting the region and is expected to counter the growing influence of Russia and China in Southeast Europe.
The European Commission is poised to release a new enlargement strategy which it hopes will push countries from the region to embrace reform and stop democratic backsliding.
The government wants to help new agribusinesses in Europe's former cannabis capital Lazarat, which has fallen on hard times since a crackdown on drug cultivation in 2014.
China becomes biggest foreign dealmaker in the region, making €7.7bn of acquisitions, up 78%.
Mixed picture in the Western Balkans, with growth in Q3 2017 ranging from 0.2% in Macedonia to a robust 4.7% in Montenegro.