Did you know that the European Union is the primary political
and economic partner and biggest investor in the Western Balkans? The EU supports thousands of projects that improve people’s lives, protect the environment, create business opportunities and facilitate regional cooperation.
The EU and the Western Balkans share a common culture and history, with closely interlinked societies and
North Macedonia and
Serbia are candidate countries for EU membership.
Kosovo are potential candidates. To help progress towards membership, the EU provides
financial assistance in a range of areas. This goes hand-in-hand with support for improvements needed to
meet EU standards, in areas such as the judiciary and public administration.
Funding and cooperation cover many fields – from business start-ups to transport links, climate action to human rights, student exchanges to cultural heritage protection... and much more. The benefits extend both ways. Greater equality, growth and opportunity in the Western Balkans will lead to a stronger and more prosperous Europe. If you want to find out more about the opportunities, achievements and success stories, read on!
Find out about some of the main EU initiatives and funding programmes in the Western Balkans.
Through IPA, the EU provides large-scale financial and technical support to countries on the path to EU membership. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia are all beneficiaries.
Part of IPA, IPARD focuses on rural areas and the agri-food sectors. Farming and rural businesses in the current EU candidate countries – Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – are eligible.
Under the mechanism, civil protection authorities in Europe cooperate to coordinate assistance to victims of disasters in Europe and elsewhere. Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia participate.
COSME provides support to small and medium enterprises across the EU and is open to SMEs in the Western Balkans.
Creative Europe supports the cultural and audio-visual sectors and is open to cultural and creative organisations from EU as well as non-EU countries, including the Western Balkans.
Customs 2020 facilitates cooperation between customs authorities in EU Member States and candidate countries and potential candidates. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia participate.
ERASMUS+ promotes cooperation in education, training, youth and sport. It is open to students, educational staff and youth groups in the Western Balkans, who wish to study, teach or volunteer abroad.
EaSI promotes better employment, social protection and work conditions. Public authorities, employment services, social partners and research institutes in the Western Balkans are eligible.
The Europe for Citizens programme contributes to a better understanding of the EU and encourages democratic participation of citizens at the EU level. Public bodies or non-profit organisations in the Western Balkans are eligible to apply.
Fiscalis 2020 fosters information exchange between tax authorities across Europe. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia are participating countries.
Horizon 2020 funds projects boosting research and innovation, and is open to participation for researchers, universities and innovative companies from the Western Balkans.
The WBIF is a joint initiative of the EU, financial institutions, bilateral donors and governments of the Western Balkans, focused on strategic investments in energy, environment, social, transport and digital infrastructure sectors.
The WB EDIF, funded by the EU, provides enhanced access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises. It is a joint initiative of the EU, International Financing Institutions, bilateral partners and public bodies in the Western Balkans.