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Ratas attending EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia

Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov (right) welcoming Jüri Ratas in Sofia, May 16, 2018.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov (right) welcoming Jüri Ratas in Sofia, May 16, 2018. Source: Riigikantselei

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) is in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia today Thursday for the EU-Western Balkans Summit. Among other issues, the heads of state and government discussed how to react to the United States' impending introduction of tariffs on steel and aluminium.

According to Ratas, the European Commission supports efforts to agree on a permanent exception from the U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminium. "A longer-term objective for example could be a limited trade agreement with the USA, but a precondition of this is a permanent exception for the European Union regarding steel and aluminium products," the prime minister said.

The heads of state and government of the EU as well as the Western Balkans met on Wednesday evening, responding to an invitation extended by President of the European Council Donald Tusk to discuss matters like innovation and digital development. Both topics are of some importance to both regions, as even the EU has recently fallen behind several other global regions in terms of its investments in technological innovation.

The meeting also discussed the American withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. "The European Union is in agreement that we will stick with the nuclear deal as long as Iran respects it. This is an important international agreement that has the objective to limit nuclear proliferation," Ratas said.

Today's summit is aimed at revitalising the recently less active relations of the EU with its neighbours in the Western Balkans. Connectivity in its broadest sense is the main topic of the summit, including potential action in the transport, energy, and IT sectors.

In addition to these topics, meetings today will also revolve around the lasting issues concerning migration and regional security.

On the side of the summit Ratas is also meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to discuss reforms in the two countries and their prospects of one day joining the European Union. Upon his arrival in Sofia on Wednesday Ratas was welcomed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov.

Bulgaria took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from Estonia at the beginning of the year.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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