The European Union (EU) organisation tasked with reviving the war-damaged south-eastern Balkans has released a plan to help Macedonia’s food industry seize western export markets by boosting quality.

Formal market access for Macedonian foodstuffs was liberalised by the Stabilisation and Association Agreement concluded with the EU in 2001, offering producers “a major window of opportunity” said Daniel Giuglaris, of the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR).

The plan commits the EAR to help Macedonia upgrade its food industry “infrastructure” and toughen laws on “standardisation, food safety, and animal and plant inspection”. It said Macedonia’s need to ensure its food met European standards would increase in May, when many key eastern European trading partners join the EU.