The New Growth plan and the Reform and Growth Facility for the Western Balkans


The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) was asked by the European Commission to produce an opinion on the New growth plan for the Western Balkans and its four pillars. The EESC opinion looks at the plan from the civil society perspective and explores means of concrete inclusion of social partners and civil society organisations (CSOs) in its implementation.

EESC member and rapporteur for the opinion Ionuţ Sibian said: "Based on the experience with implementing the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) in the EU Member States, we recommend establishing a Growth Plan scoreboard and country monitoring committees aimed at enhancing the Plan's implementation, coordination and monitoring".

Dragica Martinović, co-rapporteur and EESC member pointed out: "The socio-economic convergence gap between Western Balkans countries and the EU average needs to be gradually closed and their gradual integration into EU single market is the best way to proceed towards EU enlargement".

Input from social partners and CSOs should be sought in a timely manner and duly considered throughout the plan's implementation phase.

Key points

In the opinion, the EESC

  • recommends that the Commission issue clear and transparent guidance on how to apply the proposed conditionality package and also reiterates the importance of ensuring that the EU's focus on stability and geopolitical interests does not come at the expense of the rule of law and democracy;
  • asks the Commission to support candidate and potential candidate countries in evaluating both the advantages and drawbacks of early market integration, identifying those that are adversely affected and implementing customised mitigation measures;
  • reiterates the importance of regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations throughout the EU accession process and welcomes the focus in the Commission's proposal on developing the Common Regional Market (CRM).

Additional information