EBRD President reaffirms EU membership prospects for Western Balkans

By Vanora Bennett

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti speak at FT Western Balkans Forum in London

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti has reaffirmed “the case for EU membership for the entire Western Balkans”. In a speech opening a regional forum in London today, he said: “I do so because the values of internationalism and integration, European values, are EBRD values too.”

His remarks in London followed last month’s 2019 EBRD Annual Meeting in Sarajevo which brought together more than 3,000 delegates to discuss the economic and political development of the Western Balkans, a region where the EBRD invests about €1 billion every year.

To unleash the region's potential, further progress is needed, he added. In his speech the EBRD head identified three key areas where more needed to be done: EU approximation, regional integration and reforms.

While he praised recent developments such as, for instance, the breakthrough in relations between North Macedonia and Greece, he went on: “We can attract much more investment – and when we do, it will be that much more effective – if, at the same time, we can also advance the cause of structural reforms.”

The FT Western Balkans Forum in London took place on the eve of the next EU Summit in Brussels. At the London event President Chakrabarti was joined by Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister of Serbia, Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of North Macedonia and Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania.

Read the speech