This was announced in a joint statement from the Ministerial Meeting, which was held within 4th Western Balkans Digital, organized by the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media.
The ministerial meeting, moderated by the Minister of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media Tamara Srzentic, was attended by ministers and representatives of the ministries of economies of the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia.
The Statement states that the Common Regional Market (CRM) Action Plan 2021-2024, adopted on 10 November 2020, the Western Balkan countries committed to working together to further integrate the region into the pan-European digital zone, thus setting ambitious objectives of improving the regional digital transformation towards a digitally driven economy based on the EU standards and practices.
“The successful implementation of the roaming like at home regime from 1 July 2021, has brought significant benefits to the citizens of the Western Balkans and confirmed their readiness to embark on regional initiatives of common interest,” the Statement indicates.
The ministers agreed to support the general vision of the Roadmap for reducing roaming prices from the EU prices to close to domestic prices by 2027, which means reducing roaming prices by more than 90% in the currently most expensive mobile networks in the Western Balkans.
“Recognizing the need to continually improve the business environment for mobile operators across the region, we are committed to undertaking ambitious reforms to unlock opportunities for new investment and open up new opportunities for economic growth and connectivity,” the Statement indicates.
Ministers agreed to establish an open, transparent and inclusive process of consultation with mobile operators in the Western Balkans and the EU, including a structured regulatory dialogue.
“We call upon the mobile operators to participate in a constructive and timely manner in the regulatory dialogue in order to enable the rapid implementation of the Roadmap objective. Recognizing the support of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the European Commission (EC) in facilitating the process of developing the Roadmap, we call on the RCC to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of regional actions and call for support and advice from the European Commission,” the Statement indicates.
Ministers welcomed the possibility of connecting as many Western Balkan partners as possible with the digital COVID certificate and continuing to work with others, with the aim of facilitating the movement of citizens between the Western Balkans and the EU.
Ministers pledged to speed up work on implementing the Memorandum of Understanding on the 5G Roadmap for Digital Transformation signed in Tirana on 2 November 2020, with the aim of having regional coordination on access to secure 5G networks and timely harmonized measures for the implementation of 5G services.
They stated that in the coming weeks, through further dialogue, they would harmonize the adoption of the Joint Statement on the Interoperable Western Balkans and the Joint Statement on the Free Flow of Data in the Western Balkans.
They welcomed the launch of a full assessment of digital skills gaps and needs in public administration at the central and local levels in each Western Balkan economy, and supported extending the assessment to stakeholders to reduce the digital skills gap, especially vulnerable groups such as Roma.
“We are committed to working to establish jobs and a coalition for the digital skills of the Western Balkans that will reflect EU practice and build on best practices from the region to support digital development and retraining. Agreeing that the development of digital skills since childhood is the foundation and recognizing the success of the 21st century school program, which has worked in all Western Balkan countries to build long-term and sustainable skills, we encourage the continuation of this program to build self-sustainability,” the Ministers underlined in the Statement.
“They called upon the Regional Cooperation Council, the European Commission and other relevant regional and international institutions to help mobilize the necessary funds to pursue the commitments made under these conclusions,” the statement said.
The ministers pledged to improve cooperation in the field of cyber security in the region, and to cooperate intensively with the European Union Agency for Cyber Security (ENISA), while improving regional protection in the field of cyber security, and have called upon the EC to support the region to become more compatible.
2021 Western Balkans Digital Summit is being held as part of the Berlin Process and as an initiative of the Regional Cooperation Council and the importance of the Summit has been reaffirmed through the new four-year action plan 2021-2024, for the Common Regional Market (CRM).
The host and organizer of this year's Summit is the Ministry of Public Administration of Digital Society and Media on behalf of the Government of Montenegro, while the general sponsor is the company M:TEL