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EU Official Expects Agreement On Western Balkans Market Next Month

EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn
EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn

BRUSSELS -- EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn says he expects a political agreement among the Prime Ministers of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia on a regional Western Balkans economic market when the six prime ministers and EU officials meet in the Italian city of Trieste on July 12.

Speaking to a group of journalists in Brussels on June 6, Hahn said he expects "to have a substantial political agreement working on this regional economic area in order to allow the free flow of goods, of services, but also to have mutual recognition of certificates, in particular professional certificates."

Hahn also said the meeting would discuss "a more integrated digital market, for instance, when it comes to lowering roaming tariffs.”

Hahn voiced hope that leaders would show enough political will to achieve a functional regional market next year.

The idea of a Western Balkans market was discussed when the leaders of the six countries met in Sarajevo in March.

It has been met with a lukewarm response by both Montenegro and Kosovo, who fear that a Western Balkans market would diminish the countries' chances of one day joining the EU single market.

All six countries are either candidates or potential EU candidates but are not expected to join the bloc this decade.

Some EU officials, however, told RFE/RL that a Western Balkan market would prepare the countries for future EU accession and integration.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.

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