Balkan countries abolish mutual customs controls on their own food

The Balkan countries of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia have abolished their mutual customs controls for vegetables, meat and natural products. There will be a separate lane for trucks at the customs posts so that they no longer have to queue for hours. 

The three countries have already harmonized all necessary documentation related to phyto- and veterinary certificates, procedures, lists of plant and animal diseases and laboratory analyses. In doing so, they are taking a further step towards more free trade, in accordance with the guidelines of the European Union.

In 2013, Croatia was the first of seven Balkan countries to be admitted to the EU; Montenegro, Serbia, the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania are nominated to join. Accession negotiations are already underway with Montenegro and Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidate countries.

However, no admission of new EU countries is expected in the coming years. Within the EU, more and more people are calling to first modernize their own EU organization, including tasks, powers and financing. That is what the intention is - decisions will be made about this this year. Some EU member states have spoken out flatly against further expansion of the EU.

Since the beginning of this year, trucks with agricultural products from those three countries pass through border checkpoints without waiting. One of the benefits of the agreement is that the markets in Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia will be supplied for a longer period of time with seasonal fruits and vegetables that ripen earlier in Albania or North Macedonia, and later in Serbia. 

Last December, the presidents of the three countries met in Tirana to sign an agreement on free access to the labor market in the Western Balkans. The agreement will allow the introduction of a single work permit for all three countries. At the Open Balkans Summit in Tirana, the three leaders also signed an agreement to introduce an electronic passport identification system for the Western Balkans.