Online Conversation Decrypted the 2023 Enlargement Package and the Growth Plan
15 December 2023
ReSPA brought together over 70 public officials from the region to delve into the 2023 Enlargement Package, the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, and the conclusions drawn from the recent EU-Western Balkans Summit. Specifically, they had the chance to explore key aspects of these initiatives. This included understanding where the Enlargement Package stands regarding Public Administration Reform (PAR), grasping the essence and potential of the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, and highlighting the expected outcomes of the EU-WB Summit, particularly concerning the enlargement process.
Andrija PEJOVIĆ, a senior EU integration expert and former Chief Negotiator of Montenegro, presented the primary features of the 2023 Enlargement Package. He shed light on the PAR findings within this package, delved into the specifics of the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, and outlined key takeaways from the EU-WB Summit.
Vasyl ZUBAKA from DG NEAR shared reflections and expectations from the European Commission regarding the future of the EU enlargement process. He emphasised the role of PAR and PFM (Public Financial Management) reforms in this context.
Simonida KAČARSKA from the European Policy Institute Skopje wrapped up the discussions by emphasising what the region should anticipate regarding the enlargement process in 2024. She highlighted the impact of the June 2024 European elections and stressed the need to strengthen the Enlargement portfolio within the European Commission.
The participants engaged in an animated Q&A session moderated by Genti XHAXHIU, ReSPA Programme Coordinator. The discussion primarily focused on the region's ability to absorb the financial resources allocated within the Growth Plan and involved a debate among the participants. ReSPA is committed to continuing its "online conversation" series on critical topics related to EU accession and implementing reform agendas.
In November 2023, the European Commission adopted its 2023 Enlargement Package, offering a comprehensive evaluation of progress made by the Western Balkans towards EU accession, focusing on crucial reforms such as Public Administration Reform (PAR). Additionally, a Growth Plan for the Western Balkans was introduced to bring the region closer to the EU, expedite the accession process, and enhance regional economic development. The EU-Western Balkans Summit took place on 13 December, while the European Council convened on 14-15 December 2023 to discuss various matters, including the Enlargement agenda.