The meeting comes a day after the presentation of 2018 Enlargement package, with detailed assessments for all the partners and recommendations that the Council decides to open negotiations with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The meeting is also part of now regular exchanges with the leaders from the region and the European Union, the latest one being a working lunch in Sofia, hosted by Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borissov, in presence of the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.
The High Representative underlined the importance of regular meetings, as they this helps creating not only the confidence but also open, direct, frank, constructive channels that partners have among themselves. It also helps and accompanies the good cooperation within the region – the region has a common future and rather than the competition among different players, what has made and what is making the region advance, especially on the European Union path, is the cooperative approach, which is extremely valuable also for the citizens of the region.
The High Representative and the Prime Ministers discussed the enlargement package, including how to support each other and solve open issues where they exist, in the spirit of good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation. They underlined their full commitment to continue working to take forward the European Union integration process, reiterating their strong shared interest, responsibility and determination to achieve tangible results to improve the lives of the people of the region. Addressing reforms in the area of the rule of law, fundamental rights and good governance remains at the forefront of the work.
The High Representative and the Prime Ministers also looked ahead at the EU-Western Balkans summit that will take place in Sofia on 17 May. They also looked forward to positive Council Conclusions in June. Federica Mogherini encouraged the Prime Ministers to further deepen and address with renewed energy the work needed in order to move closer to their European Union future, for the shared benefit of EU and Western Balkan citizens.