The European Union has long supported its partners in the Western Balkans on their respective integration paths, and the European Council reaffirmed its unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans on 9 March 2017
The Strategy includes six flagship initiatives - specific actions that the Commission will take over the next years to support the transformation efforts of the Western Balkans in areas of mutual interest. These range from strengthening the rule of law, reinforcing cooperation on security and migration and expanding the EU Energy Union to the Western Balkans, to lowering roaming charges and rolling out broadband in the region. The Strategy also underlines the need for the EU to be prepared to welcome new members once they have met the rigorous criteria for doing so.
A credible enlargement policy is a key component of the EU's Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy. It is not only a strategic investment in Europe's security and prosperity, but has already contributed greatly to peace in formerly war-torn areas. The EU's enlargement conditionality, as well as the focus on strong regional cooperation helps create a political environment conducive to bilateral issues being resolved or no longer being politically instrumentalised.
EU support for and cooperation with its partners in the region delivers concrete benefits today: fostering economic development to create jobs, opportunities to travel and to study abroad, improvement of governance and rule of law, strengthening good neighbourly relations, and regional cooperation.