2018. 03. 08.
On Tuesday, the European People’s Party organized a conference in the European Parliament on “Digital economy, connectivity and roaming in the Western Balkans.” Participants included ambassadors of the Western Balkans states. Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society presented EU programs that extend to the Western Balkans while highlighting progress made in the digital economy.
Lívia Járóka, Vice-President of the EP responsible for the Western Balkans, underlined the important interests that both the EU and the Western Balkans have in connecting the region with the rest of Europe.
“The gradual decrease and the future eradication of roaming fees would reinforce the European Union’s message towards the citizens of Western Balkan states that the EU is indeed committed to enlargement. There are many legal and technical obstacles ahead, but if there is a political will, we’ll proceed rapidly,” said Járóka. “Simply by involving them in EU programs, we already put the countries of the Western Balkans in an advantageous position and ease their integration, too.”
Andor Deli, Fidesz MEP from the Vojvodina region and member of the EU-Serbia Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee, highlighted topics important to minorities in the Western Balkans. Deli talked about the correlation between digitalization and native-language information in the context of respecting minority rights.
“The obstacle-free, cross-border radio and television broadcasts enable the indigenous minorities living in the region to access information, follow sport events and other digital programs in their mother tongue. We are all aware of the close relationship between the implementation of national minority rights, neighborliness and the progress of the association negotiations. The broadening of the digital market and the involvement of the EU candidate states of the Western Balkans could facilitate the implementation of minority rights and deepen cooperation among these countries,” said Deli.
In closing, Járóka addressed the huge potential of digitalization and how the territory should not be left unexploited.
“In today’s world, almost everyone has a smart phone and the different mobile applications point much further than what we already use them for. Targeted applications can help us in our everyday lives, facilitate catching up or even make our environment cleaner. We need to take this opportunity,” said Járóka.
The EC’s enlargement strategy, published February 6, stated that it is in the EU’s political, security and economic interests to integrate and advance the Western Balkans as soon as possible.