Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans – An overview of the Regional Economic Area and the “mini-Schengen”

The new Balkans Group policy article “Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans” presents an overview of the two most debated agendas on regional cooperation — the Regional Economic Area (REA) and the “mini-Schengen”, with another on the horizon – the Common Regional Market.

In July 2017, the RCC presented the Multi-annual Action Plan for a Regional Economic Area in the Western Balkans (MAP REA) during the Berlin Process Summit in Trieste, Italy which was endorsed by the leaders of the Western Balkans. It aimed to “enable the unobstructed flow of goods, services, capital and highly skilled labour” across the region in four components: Trade, Investment, Mobility, and Digital Integration. Two years after, the initiative was criticised for insufficient progress which could be shaped into economic growth and further integrations.

In parallel, in October 2019, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev launched the so-called “mini-Schengen” intending to further economic integration between themselves through the free movement of people/labour using only ID cards.

With the upcoming Berlin Process Summit, to be held on 10 November 2020 in Sofia under the joint chairmanship of North Macedonia and Bulgaria, a plan for creating a ‘Common Regional Market’ is expected to be endorsed. This marks the launch of another initiative in the region in a short period —after the launch of the Regional Economic Area (REA) and the “mini-Schengen”.

A full report with in-depth analysis of regional cooperation and initiatives in the Western Balkans, and their implementation, will soon be published by the Balkans Group.

Read the article here

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