The Berlin Process is an initiative aimed at stepping up regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and aiding the integration of these countries into the European Union. It was launched on August 28, 2014, by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The goals of the Process were outlined in the Final Declaration by the German Chair: “To make additional real progress in the reform process, in resolving outstanding bilateral and internal issues, and in achieving reconciliation within and between the societies in the region”, as well as to enhance “regional economic cooperation and lay the foundations for sustainable growth”.
The Process is taking place with support of the European Commission, international financial institutions and the Member States involved in the Process – Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. It is supplementary to the individual countries’ institutional EU integration process.
The Process’s connectivity agenda refers to linking the people (social dimension), economies (economic dimension) and states (political dimension) of the region. Within this agenda, the Process has thus far yielded initiatives and projects in the fields of transport and infrastructure, economic connectivity, youth cooperation and cooperation among businesses and among the civil societies of the Western Balkans. It also inspired intergovernmental cooperation through entities set up during its course: Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), the Western Balkans Chambers Investment Forum (WBCIF) and the Western Balkans Fund (WBF).
Alongside the meetings of the highest governmental officials (Western Balkan Summit Series), the Berlin Process encompasses the meetings of the representatives of regional civil society organisations (Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkan Summit Series), youth organisations (Youth Forum) and business associations (Business Forum).
The Berlin Process started with the 2014 Berlin Conference, which was followed by the 2015 Vienna Summit, the 2016 Paris Summit, the 2017 Trieste Summit, the 2018 London Summit, 2019 Poznan Summit and 2020 Sofia Summit.
The initiative includes six Western Balkan countries that are candidates for EU membership (Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania) or potential candidates (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo), some EU members, i.e.: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Slovenia and the United Kingdom.
The 2020 presidency is jointly held by Bulgaria and North Macedonia.