European People’s Party (EPP) leaders reaffirmed their unequivocal support for a credible enlargement process and European accession perspective of the Western Balkans when they met today via videoconference ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Zagreb Summit Leaders Meeting, in the framework of the Croatian EU Presidency.

EPP leaders emphasised the need for European solidarity and unity in the fight against COVID-19 in Europe. They highlighted that the EU has provided essential and unparalleled support to the Western Balkans, going far beyond what any other partners have provided. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, the infodemic and other hybrid activities can only be overcome by common strategic communication. The leaders also underlined the need to work together to face shared challenges such as migration and the recovery of European economies, for example, tourism which is crucial for the entire region.

EPP leaders welcomed the EU Council decision to finally open EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, sending an important signal to the region by underlining that it is now time for the countries to put all their efforts into implementing the necessary reforms for negotiations to advance swiftly.

EPP President Donald Tusk commended the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for his successful and dedicated efforts to keep the Western Balkans on the path to EU accession during the Croatian EU Presidency.

The members of the EPP Presidency adopted a statement on the EPP EU-Western Balkans Zagreb Summit Leaders Meeting. It stressed EPP’s commitment to the region and the need for the Western Balkan countries to carry out reforms and produce tangible results to benefit the region and its citizens, in particular its youth, by reinforcing democracy and the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organised crime and the need for an independent judiciary. The Western Balkans are inside the borders of the EU and without them, the European Union is not complete.