06 Jun 2022

Open Balkan initiative – a step towards cooperation

With the idea of implementing the four freedoms of the European Union in the Western Balkans as soon as possible; movement of people, goods, services and capital, the Open Balkan initiative was launched in October 2019 by the leaders of Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia.  It is a major step in cooperation between the three countries, aiming to increase trade and improve bilateral relations. Another important milestone is expected this week at the Summit to take place in Ohrid, June 7-8.

The legal framework and basis for concrete activities within the Open Balkan initiative were established by declarations and agreements signed during several meetings and summits that were held in Belgrade, Tirana, Skopje and Niš, among other cities. For instance, the Agreement on Conditions for Free Access to the Labour Market in the Western Balkans, the Agreement on Interconnection of Schemes for Electronic Identification of the Citizens, and the Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Veterinary, Phytosanitary, and Food and Animal Feed safety was signed at the summit held in Tirana on December 21, 2021.

By establishing this economic zone in the Balkans, the goods and capital would flow quicker, saving more than 30 million hours spent waiting to cross the borders of these three countries every year.  The initiative would also enable citizens from all three countries to find employment in the region under the same conditions as domestic citizens.  The issuance of the first identification cards that will enable free access to the labor market in the Western Balkans has been announced at the Open Balkans Forum held in Belgrade on May 24, 2022.

Stay tuned to our website as in the coming weeks, we will write in more detail about the benefits and transformative power of this initiative, especially in terms of customs relations and the labor market…