The Italian Institute for International Relations (IAI) said that the Western Balkans are inevitably lagging behind the rest of southeastern Europe because the European Union is providing its member states in the region with more financial aid.
According to Belgrade-based Beta news agency, the IAI report said that Greece will receive 5,700 Euro per capita from EU funds over the next seven years to recover from the coronavirus pandemic while the countries of the Western Balkans will get 500 Euro per capita. Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria have a combined population which is smaller than the 18 million in the Western Balkans but those three EU member states will get more than six times the financial aid that the region is likely to get, it said.
The EU IPA III financial instrument will provide some nine billion Euro in grants to the Western Balkans by 2027 while Romania will have almost 70 billion in grants at its disposal and Bulgaria just under 30 billion, the report said.
The report warned that the “social and economic wall” between the Western Balkans and the neighboring EU member states will continue to grow in the foreseeable future, adding that low income and insufficient economic progress are the reason why conditions favorable to authoritarian political leaders and the plundering of national wealth are still in place in the region./ibna