At a summit of the Berlin Process hosted by Bulgaria on Tuesday, representatives of six Western Balkan countries adopted a declaration on a common regional market, with Bosnia and Herzegovina adopting documents on the establishment of a mini-Schengen in that part of Europe at the very last moment.
An eight-point declaration envisages the establishment of so-called green corridors for unobstructed cross-border movement of goods, the mutual recognition of certificates about the origin and quality of traded goods, the establishment of freedom of movement for highly trained professionals and the unobstructed operation of companies providing various services.
The document also envisages cooperation in attracting investments, cutting payment service fees, support to an innovative ecosystem and digital transformation, expanding the Internet network to cover 95% of households in each country, introducing the 5G mobile network and gradually reducing the price of roaming services within the region and with EU member-states.
The common regional market connecting Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia will be based on EU rules and standards, and the main purpose of that project is to enable the countries to draw closer to the EU and create conditions for their full integration.
The Sofia summit, held as part of the Berlin Process that was launched with the aim of strengthening cooperation between the EU and the six countries aspiring to join the EU, was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it also adopted an action plan for the establishment of a common market and a green agenda for the region.
We are aware that the action plan for the common regional market will not transform the region overnight or in line with our expectations. Setting ambitious goals, however, it can be of help and step up changes if we can work together. There will be no victims in this transformation, it will only bring benefits, the secretary-general of the Regional Cooperation Council, Majlinda Begu, said.
The project for the common regional market was previously named the mini-Schengen because it is based on the notion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia proving their readiness for cooperation that will be expected of them if and when they join the EU one day.
The project currently focuses on transport and economy, that is, the creation of preconditions for the free flow of people, goods and capital in the region.