Conference in Tirana: Exploring the External Dimension of EU-supported Connectivity from Berlin Process to Global Gateway

Stakeholders from the European Union (EU) and Western Balkans convened in Tirana for a pivotal conference titled “The External Dimension of EU-supported Connectivity: From Berlin Process to Global Gateway.” Hosted under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council, the half-day event emphasized the crucial role of knowledge sharing and information exchange in advancing connectivity initiatives across regions.

Since 2015, the EU has allocated over 7.7 billion EUR in grant support for more than 85 connectivity infrastructure projects in the Western Balkans. Six of these projects are integral to the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, aimed at bolstering smart, clean, and secure links in digital, energy, and transport sectors globally, while also strengthening health, education, and research systems.

The Western Balkans’ experience holds valuable insights for the EU and its Member States. Infrastructure projects backed by the EU offer lessons that can be applied to the Global Gateway initiative, enhancing planning procedures, addressing social impacts, and reinforcing connections to reforms and enlargement processes in the region.

During the conference, representatives from the EU, Western Balkans, think tanks, international financial institutions, and regional and national cooperation structures shared knowledge and lessons learned. They advocated for the establishment of a knowledge repository and information exchange platform to support stakeholders’ information needs and assist countries in leveraging the Global Gateway initiative effectively.

Participants concluded by highlighting the importance of bringing these discussions to Brussels to review Global Gateway priorities. The event, part of the Berlin Process Spring Series, was organized by the Cooperation and Development Institute, with support from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hanns Seidel Foundation, and the German Federal Foreign Office.

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