24 Oct 14
Brussels to Monitor Balkan Economies Each Year
Balkan countries pledged to send their annual economic plans to the EU at a conference in Belgrade – which also marked the first time that the Serbian capital hosted Kosovo officials.
Balkan foreign and economy ministers and EU representatives agreed at a conference on Thursday in Belgrade that Brussels will increase its oversight of regional economies.
Western Balkans countries pledged to submit “National Economic Reform Programmes” to the European Commission each year, starting in 2015.
These programmes will present the measures that the countries will undertake to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability and include clear timelines and the assessed effects of these measures on respective budgets.
Stefan Fule, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, said greater integration of economic reform plans would “send a strong signal to investors… meaning more investment and more prosperity for… countries in the region”.
Fule said the new approach to economic governance involved drawing up credible reform programmes and enhanced monitoring by the EU.
“This should help your transformation to functioning market economies, able to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union, including boosting competitiveness, growth and jobs,” he said.
The advantage over greater EU oversight to countries in the region would be “the benefits of enlargement even before joining the EU”, he added.
“It means building economic bridges and starting now to close the gap between the GDP in this region and in the EU.”
Balkan officials also discussed infrastructure projects, other programmes that could stimulate economic growth and attract foreign direct investment, structural reforms and regional cooperation.
The Belgrade conference brought together ministers from Serbia, Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo.
The presence of Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj and Kosovo Economic Development Minister Fadil Ismajli was noteworthy
The two are the first government officials from Kosovo to officially visit Serbia since the country declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as a state – and has vowed never to do so – although under EU pressure it has agreed to an EU-led dialogue with Kosovo on “normalisation” of ties.
Hoxhaj stated that the visit was an historic event and offered proof of the steady normalisation of relations.
The EU-led dialogue “should end with a peace treaty, which should include Kosovo’s recognition as an independent state, which should allow Kosovo to gain admission to the United Nations”, Hoxhaj remarked.
Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s Foreign Minister, said the recent mayhem at the Serbia-Albania Euro 2016 qualifier was a reminder of the need for continued regional cooperation and stability.
“Regional stability is very important, and incidents like the one at Albania-Serbia match show much time it takes to reach it – and how little is needed to disturb it,” Dacic said.
The match on October 14 had to be abandoned after a brawl sparked by a drone that carried a “Greater Albania” flag over the pitch in Belgrade.
Ditmir Bushati, Albania’s Foreign Minister, who also attended the conference, said that “state affairs cannot be ruled by hooliganism – cannot be ruled by a football match”.
Dacic announced that the next conference would be held in Pristina, Kosovo, after Kosovo appoints a new government.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)