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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
News article23 May 2017Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

The Western Balkans and Turkey to deepen economic and social reforms with the EU

In the annual Economic and Financial Dialogue with the EU held today, the Western Balkans and Turkey agreed to speed up economic and social reforms in order to strengthen macroeconomic stability and boost competitiveness and inclusive growth.

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In the annual Economic and Financial Dialogue with the EU held today, the Western Balkans and Turkey agreed to speed up economic and social reforms in order to strengthen macroeconomic stability and boost competitiveness and inclusive growth.

On 23 May 2017, the EU, the Western Balkans and Turkey jointly adopted conclusions which include country-specific policy guidance based on the countries' Economic Reform Programmes. The aim of the dialogue is to help countries improve their macroeconomic stability, management of public finances and to boost competitiveness and long-term growth in the region.

"Today all seven candidate countries and potential candidates for EU accession have committed themselves to speed up economic and social reforms with the overall aim of boosting competitiveness and inclusive growth. I am pleased that all enlargement countries have shown commitment to this exercise, which is a fundamental objective of the EU enlargement strategy. The focus is now on implementation of the reforms so that people of the region can see more and better jobs", said Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

"The economic outlook for the Western Balkans has improved. However, like in the EU, structural reforms should be implemented in order to ensure long-term growth and competitiveness. High and still rising debt levels in a number of our partner countries are of a great concern. In all countries, fiscal credibility and sustainability would benefit from more transparent budgeting, stronger medium-term fiscal frameworks and the introduction or consistent application of well-defined fiscal rules capable of firmly anchoring expectations", said Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice President of the Commission for the Euro and Social Dialogue.

The jointly adopted policy guidance is based on Economic Reform Programmes, which the authorities develop on an annual basis and submit to the EU at the end of January. The programmes run over three years. They comprise a macroeconomic and fiscal policy framework and priority structural reforms to boost growth and competitiveness. These structural reforms range from liberalising energy and transport markets, tackling the very high unemployment rates, raising the quality of the education system, improving the business environment and attracting investments among other things.

The exercise is meant to help the EU's enlargement partners boost their economic and social development. It will also support them in gradually meeting the economic criteria for accession to the EU and build their capacity to meet the obligations under the economic surveillance mechanism of the EU - the so called 'European Semester' – when they become EU Members.

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