Southeast Europe leaders pledge to speed up EU integration process

Southeast Europe leaders pledge to speed up EU integration process
Leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni process pledged to accelerate the process of EU integration at a summit in Skopje. / Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia September 11, 2023

Leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni process, from Slovenia, Croatia and the six Western Balkans countries, pledged to accelerate the process of EU integration, which they defined as a process of vital importance in a joint declaration at a summit in North Macedonia's capital Skopje on September 11.

The Brdo-Brijuni initiative for the Western Balkans was initiated in 2013 by the then presidents of Slovenia and Croatia, Borut Pahor and Ivo Josipovic, with EU enlargement as the main focus of the annual meetings.

The countries agreed to commit to reforms that would improve the prospects of the Western Balkan states to join the EU until 2030. They also noted that this goal is even more important after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We recognise the fact that comprehensive political, economic and social reforms are key to joining the EU. We commit to intensifying our efforts in implementing reforms in the Western Balkans aimed at strengthening the rule of law, progress, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration,” the declaration noted.

It also re-affirmed the importance of regional cooperation as part of the progress towards EU membership.

The leaders of the eight countries also agreed to step up urgent measures addressing the threats from climate change.

“Tackling the challenges of climate change, green transition and green growth, along with enhanced diversification of energy and the transition to renewable energy and efficiency, should be further improved. We undertake to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources and to strengthen energy efficiency in order to reduce the carbon print and ensure a sustainable energy future. This could include environmentally sound investments in hydro, solar, wind and geothermal sources,” the declaration noted.

The countries pledged to support investment in climate-resistant and environmentally sustainable infrastructure and disaster preparedness measures.