Bregu: Common Regional Market will bring the Western Balkans closer to the EU Single Market

03 April 2023

RCC Secretary General Majlinda Bregu at Parliament Assembly in Tirana

RCC Secretary General Majlinda Bregu at Parliament Assembly in Tirana

RCC Secretary General spoke before Albanian Parliament of the RCC’s co-oganisation of the upcoming Berlin Process Summit in Tirana this fall 

Tirana – The Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Majlinda Bregu spoke before the Albanian Parliament’s National Council of European Integration (NCEI) in Tirana today about co-organisation of the upcoming Berlin Process Summit by Albanian Government as a host and the RCC as coordinator of the Berlin Process Agendas. 

“No one knows how long our region’s EU integration process will take, hence in the meantime it is important to create and strengthen the Common Regional Market (CRM), thus aligning the Western Balkans (WB) with the EU single market through concrete policies,” said Bregu adding that the RCC intends to present at the next Berlin Process Summit in Tirana a clear outline of our region’s path of getting closer to the EU within the upcoming 3 years.  

Ms Bregu listed the biggest RCC achievements under the CRM, such as Roaming Free Western Balkans; signing of EU-WB Roaming Declaration that is to enable reduction of roaming charges between EU and WB as of this October; introduction of the green lanes during the pandemic and their present extension to EU member states such as Italy, Croatia, and Greece (and soon possibly Hungary as well) contributing to shortening waiting times at borders and faster transport of goods; and signing of the 3 mobility agreements at the last Berlin Process Summit: on the Freedom of Movement with Identity Cards within WB, on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, and on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications for Doctors of Medicine, Dentists and Architects.

“Signing of these 3 agreements is a benefit for all when it comes to travel, but also for professionals, students, researches and professors. It is also an additional tool in preventing youth from leaving their home. The annual costs of education of our youth that are leaving the region ranges from a minimum of 840 million to 2.46 billion euros. In practical terms, this costs economies 3 billion euro in annual GDP growth. Unfortunately, if current trends continue, it is estimated that our region will lose up to 50% of young talent in the upcoming decades,” added Bregu.

Speaking on the tangible results expected at the next Summit in Tirana this autumn, as CRM is gradually entering its final phase, Ms Bregu singled out the roaming charges reduction between EU and WB in fall; full ratification and entering into force of at least two mobility agreements: that on the free movement with ID and on the qualifications of higher education; approval of the second Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA 2) for 4 additional professions: midwives, veterinary surgeons, nurses and pharmacists; but also a plan of CRM strengthened continuation aimed at bringing the region closer to the EU. 

“The growth of region’s potential will require additional sources, new dynamism, and concrete feasible plans, through which deep social, institutional and environmental challenges can be overcome. To secure the future that we want for our region will require strong education policies, better governance, upholding the rule of law, a cleaner environment and a dynamic economy that offers more opportunities,” concluded Bregu

NCEI is a structure within the Albanian Parliament established in 2015, under Ms. Bregu’s care and vision, from the initial skepticism in introducing another layer into the EU integration process, until its development into a fully functional instrument.  

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