Newsletter 9/2011 - Activities in brief

Conference of National Councils of European Movement in South East Europe held in Podgorica, Montenegro

In December 2010, Montenegrin capital Podgorica hosted a regional conference of National Councils of the European Movement in South East Europe, supported by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat. 

Representatives of National Councils of the European Movement from ten countries from the region and institutions dealing with EU integration processes gathered at the event that was a continuation of an initiative of the RCC Secretariat and National Councils, launched in May 2010, at the initial conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The main topics of discussion were strengthening of cooperation between civil sectors organizations in South East Europe as well opportunities for improvement of cooperation within existing regional initiatives. Concrete contributions of civil society organizations to the European integration processes were also discussed in the course of the conference.

Speaking at the event, Deputy RCC Secretary General Jelica Minic reiterated the organization’s support to this type of civil society engagement aimed at advancing regional cooperation and European integration.

“The RCC is very satisfied that its incentive to develop cooperation in the framework of National Councils of the European Movement in South East Europe has gained momentum and promises to become an important self-sustainable initiative.”

The conference participants agreed to formalize cooperation in the future, and develop concrete models and projects among European Movements of the region and their national councils, European Movement International and national councils from other European countries, as well as other international, regional and local stakeholders.

The conference was co-organized by the European Movement of Montenegro and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat, under the auspices of the Montenegrin Chairmanship-in-Office of the South-East European Cooperation Process and with support of Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Regional Cooperation Council hosts meeting of South East European Research Area for e-Infrastructures

The sixth meeting and the first period review of the South East European Research Area for e-Infrastructures (SEERA-EI) was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 26-29 January 2011.

The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Communication and Transport of Bosnia and Herzegovina and hosted by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat.

Participants discussed programmes and strategies related to e-Infrastructure in South East Europe (SEE) with a view to strengthen collaboration towards common regional e-Infrastructures vision, strategy and action plan. They concluded that continued dialogue, cooperation and planning will create a sustainable platform for increased cooperation of national e-Infrastructures programmes in SEE.

Speaking at the opening of the event, RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic highlighted that the South East European countries have achieved significant success in establishing common regional framework and national guidelines for development of information and communications technologies (ICT) as well as in implementing policies, strategies and action plans related to information society.     

“Benefits of cooperation within e-Infrastructure research area in South East Europe, however, can go far beyond just sharing scientific facilities among research and education institutes involved in the project. They affect other social segments, such as education and health.”

Minister of Communication and Transport of Bosnia and Herzegovina Rudo Vidovic said that application of ICT in education and science was one of the crucial tasks of development of information society.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is strongly committed to building information society. Through implementation of e-service, development of knowledge and information society, economic progress of the country will be achieved. The economy will be moving faster, better and more safely while communication and sharing of information between people enhances its development.”

The event brought together representatives of 10 countries from the region involved in the implementation of e-Infrastructure – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. 

Plans for the second project period include strengthened cooperation with relevant regional initiatives, further analysis of programmes and identification of best practices for national programme formulation and management, followed by implementation of joint action plan for regional cooperation on e-Infrastructures.

Zagreb conference presents latest developments and way forward in Public Private Partnerships in South East Europe

International conference titled “Capacity Building Conference on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in South East Europe” was held in Zagreb, Croatia on 7-8 February 2011. The Conference was jointly organized by Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), the Agency for Public Private Partnerships of the Republic of Croatia and the Team of experts for public private partnerships of the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Integration (CECI) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). 

The two-day event that gathered over 120 participants from the region was an opportunity to discuss key issues for public private partnerships such as: managing project cycle, harmonization of public procurement and legislation on public private partnerships, impact of financial crisis on public private partnerships, and merging with EU funds as a possible solution.

The conference was opened by Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, who is also President of the Governing Board of the PPP Agency, Petar Cobankovic, RCC Secretary General, Hido Biscevic, Head of CECI, Geoffrey Hamilton, and Director of Agency for Public Private Partnerships, Kamilo Vrana.

During his opening speech, Deputy Prime Minister Cobankovic said that the aim of the conference was to, through a network of public private partnerships in South East Europe and together with the Regional Cooperation Council, facilitate exchange of experiences and knowledge but also assist in preparation of cross-border projects and implementation of public private partnerships in the region. 

RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic stressed that the major development problems in South East Europe were of regional nature, mostly to do with poorly developed infrastructure.

“Public private partnership model is an adequate tool for resolution of these issues since it eases financing, especially in the times of crisis when the capital is more expensive and less available.”

Head of the UNECE Committee on Economic Cooperation and Integration, Geoffrey Hamilton, agreed that through public private partnerships the region should jointly implement projects such as infrastructural connections of the coast with the continental part as well as contruction of network of highways.

Director of Agency for Public Private Partnerships, Kamilo Vrana, concluded that major limitations to successful implementation of public private partnerships were lack of knowledge rather than lack of sources of financing.

“Considering the significance of this financing model for development of strategic projects, mutual cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experiences are logical answer to challenges of faster regional development.”

During the conference, members of the Public Private Partnerships in South East Europe Network (SEEPN) presented the latest experiences in development and implementation of public private partnerships in their countries. Representatives of the EU Delegation in Croatia and of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also participated in the event.