British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Tuesday a package of measures to help the Western Balkans prosper by improving the collective security and economic stability of the region. She said the UK will remain fully committed to Western Balkans’ prosperity and security after Brexit.
The Prime Minister welcomed the six Western Balkan leaders to London, alongside other European figures such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, for the 5th annual Western Balkans Summit under the Berlin Process.
The Berlin Process, established in 2014, has already achieved a great deal in the region – advancing the economic integration, building energy and transport links, and forging connections between civil society and young people.
The package May announced will complement this progress, helping build a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic Western Balkans. It will help the region to address complex security challenges, particularly around serious and organised crime and drug smuggling, which in turn will help prevent illicit activity on the streets in the UK.
“The package that I have announced today will help the Western Balkans tackle threats to their progress, such as serious and organised crime, drug trafficking and terrorism, while also having a positive effect in the UK by cutting off criminal activity at the source and helping prevent crime from reaching British streets," Theresa May said.
The new package, which demonstrates the government’s enduring commitment to the region, and some of the measures include:
- Increasing UK funding to the region by over 95 percent from £41 million (around €46 million) in 2018/2019 to £80 million (around €90 million) in 2020/2021 from the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund,
- Launching the Balkans Organised Crime Observatory, jointly with the Austrian and Norwegian governments,
- Improving the region’s cyber capability through a £1 million (around €1.1 million) investment in training and advisory activities,
- Agreeing a Joint Declaration on the Principles of Information-Exchange in the Field of Law Enforcement that will help law enforcement agencies in the region share information more easily in the fight against serious and organised crime and terrorism,
- Chairing a senior-level Security Commitments Steering Group to push for better exchange of information and best practice,
- Extending the Pan Balkans Strategic Reserve Force (SRF) for another year which is held at readiness in the UK to move into the Western Balkans if the security situation deteriorates or the UK needs to support stability in the region,
- Committing £10 million (around €11 million) to help build digital skills and employment prospects for youth in the Western Balkans,
- Providing an additional £1 million (around €1.1 million) to help the region address difficult legacy issues.
(£1 = €1.13278)