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

EESC opinion: New growth plan and Reform and Growth Facility for the Western Balkans

Key points


  • firmly believes that a gradual, predictable and merit-based approach to acquiring increasing benefits during the EU accession process, including financial support, integration into EU single market and participation in the work of EU institutions, is the best way to proceed towards EU enlargement; the socio-economic convergence gap between these countries and the EU average needs to be gradually closed;
  • 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; when developing such measures, input from social partners and civil society organisations (CSOs) should be sought in a timely manner and duly considered;
  • emphasises the importance of aligning support for candidate countries with Member States' financial instruments for a seamless transition to membership, along with their institutional readiness to access cohesion policy funding; based on the experience with implementing the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) in the EU Member States it recommends establishing a Growth Plan scoreboard and country monitoring committees aimed at enhancing the Plan's implementation, coordination and monitoring. Such committees should include social partners, as well as specialised CSOs from the beneficiary countries;
  • 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); proposes establishing an objective and transparent monitoring system for implementing commitments, with the involvement of social partners and CSOs and the political will to apply reversibility mechanisms when needed.