Open Balkan is a regional initiative created by North Macedonia, Serbia, and Albania, committed to securing conditions for practicing the four European freedoms for as many as possible citizens and companies on the Balkans. When speaking of free movement of people, goods, capital and services, Open Balkan reinforces the regional cooperation and connectivity.
At the moment three countries (North Macedonia, Albania, and Serbia) lead and develop the initiative, which has an open-door policy, especially for the other WB countries, such as Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, but also for the other countries in the region that are members of the EU.
We are connecting with the purpose of developing our economies, for a common regional and single market without limitations, without barriers, without borders and for its long-term development that will bring better life for all citizens.
This initiative is about integration instead of disintegration, it is about open instead of closed borders, it is about freedom instead of limited movement, it is about facilitation instead of complication of procedures, it is about cooperation instead of hostility, for progress instead of regress.
We are connecting with each other with clear, open, and public intention for our people to immediately feel the benefits of what we offer. We expect that these benefits will soon be felt in the domestic budget of millions of families, in quality of life of millions of citizens.
From a political point of view, Open Balkan is directed at accelerating the European integration of the WB countries and towards contributing for each of the countries in the initiative to become a member of the European Union as quickly as possible.
Tangible results for the citizens and the companies:
The signed trilateral agreements are already bearing tangible results and benefits for the citizens. As a result of the Agreement for protection of disasters and accidents, North Macedonia’s neighbours have assisted with timely interventions during the fires in the summer of 2021. With regards to the forthcoming winter, we have already set up joint working groups that will secure mutual assistance to the three countries in supply of food, electricity, and energy resources.
Movement of agricultural products and food between the three countries has become much faster since we introduced the green lanes on the border crossings of Tabanovce and Kjafasan for the trucks from the Open Balkan Initiative. The mechanisms for control are conducted much faster because they operate 24/7 and are mutually recognized, thus making the triple controls in three countries, obsolete.
It is expected that very soon we will activate the Open Balkan ID number (OB ID) for the citizens of the initiative. Thanks to this OB ID the citizens will be able to work in the private sector in any of these three countries, without recognition of the diplomas, without having to wait for various permits, and without facing administrative barriers. Also, the establishment of the single electronic system for tolls in all three countries of Open Balkan is in its final phase.
Establishment of common agency for attracting investments in Open Balkan
Promoting the region as an attractive tourist destination offering top wine and gastronomic experience
Establishment of regional theatre fund in Open Balkan
Organizing regional youth exchange, schools, and festivals
Reducing and eliminating the fees and taxes arising from the procedure of cross-border movement of people, goods, and services
The Open Balkan initiative is fully supported by representatives of the European Union and the United States of America.
The Euro-Commissioner Varhelyi underlined that this initiative brings economic benefit for the members. He invited Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to join the initiative.
Furthermore, Varhelyi stated that EU supports every regional cooperation based on the values of the bloc.
You must continue promoting this initiative; the region wants to be whole in terms of economy and society. I admire the fact that you are so attached to this initiative, most of all because the initiative comes from the Balkans, not from the EU. When we failed, you continued attracting the participation of all stakeholders in the Balkans. This is the best message that the region can send – Varhelyi said in Tirana in December 2021.
In March 2022 during a study visit paid by the OB coordinators to Washington DC, representatives from the State Department expressed their strong and unreserved support for the European integration of the whole WB region. They reiterated their support especially for the inclusive, regional, economic, and political cooperation developing through concrete initiatives oriented towards results, such as Open Balkan, initiatives that are welcome by the citizens, companies and institutions and comply with the rules and regulations of the EU.
Deputy Assistant Secretary and special representative for WB, Gabriel Escobar, expressed his direct support for the Open Balkan initiative and its enlargement.
With "Open Balkan" we are taking concrete steps to jointly deal with the energy and food crisis - Press conference of the leaders of the Open Balkan Summit in Belgrade
Agreements signed with Open Balkan:
Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of tourism in the Western Balkans (English)
Memorandum of understanding on the cooperation of the taxation administrations in Western Balkans (English)
Memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation in the Western Balkans (English)
Agreement on cooperation in the Western Balkans in the field of mutual recognition of diplomas and scientific grades issued by higher education institutions and other authorized institutions (English)