Commission approves CARDS aid package to Western Balkans

The Commission has allocated 272.5 million euros in aid to Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The Commission has approved its first package of financial support programmes for the Western Balkans, aimed primarily at reinforcing democracy and the rule of law, human rights, civil society and the media, and the operation of a free market economy. 

In 2005, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will receive 34.5 million euros, Serbia and Montenegro 184 million euros, and Kosovo 54 million euros under the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) programme. The annual CARDS purses for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the CARDS Regional Annual Programme, will be approved by the Commission later in 2005.

The Commission’s 2000-2006 CARDS assistance budget for the Western Balkans countries totals around 5 billion euros. The general objective of CARDS is to support the Western Balkans countries’ participation in the stabilisation and association process, which may lead to EU accession.

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn: “My goal is to ensure that the prospect of EU accession becomes a tangible reality. We are partners and the EU wants to assist the countries of the region. The rest depends on their leaders and citizens.”

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