November 27, 2019 / 1:38 PM / 15 days ago

New EU executive wants to keep W. Balkans 'as close as possible'

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gestures during a news conference after the vote of Members of the EU Parliament on her college of commissioners, in Strasbourg, France, November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - The next head of the European Union’s powerful executive, German conservative Ursula von der Leyen, said on Wednesday she wanted to keep the Western Balkans “as close as possible” to the bloc.

“I am completely convinced it is in our best strategic interest that we keep the Western Balkans as close as possible,” she said after EU lawmakers gave the final backing to her new European Commission to start from Dec.1.

Reporting by Marine Strauss, Jan Strupczewski, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Jon Boyle

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