Newsletter 27/2013 - Our South East Europe

Regional Cooperation Council’s past activities and future plans

The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretary General’s Annual Report 2012-2013 reflects developments in regional cooperation, results of the implementation of the RCC Strategy and Work Programme (SWP) 2011-2013, the next triennial RCC SWP and the RCC’s role in the South East Europe (SEE 2020) strategy framework. It also focuses on synergy and coordination between the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) and the RCC, and the state of institutional relations of the RCC participants from SEE with the European Union (EU). It aims to contribute to a better insight in the state and perspective of the regional cooperation in SEE. 

The Annual Report 2012-1213 was endorsed by participants of the 5th RCC Annual Meeting in Ohrid on 30 May 2013, together with the organisation’s new strategy for the 2014-2016 period.

Presenting the report and the strategy, Goran Svilanovic, RCC Secretary General, said the ability to ensure all-inclusiveness in its activities is one of the most important achievements of the organization.

“The RCC is the only organization that is all-inclusive as a result of consensus by all its participants. The all-inclusiveness in the RCC work is a major step forward towards strengthening regional stability. It reconfirms dialogue as the only way to solve open issues.”

The successful implementation of the RCC SWP 2011-2013 integrated efforts from governmental, non-profit and private sectors in reaching the goals set by the region. It entailed meeting not only 22 distinct objectives set in the priority areas of cooperation, but also increasing the overall capacity of the RCC Secretariat to function in the region’s best interests.

In the period May 2012 - May 2013, the South East Europe (SEE) has mainly been marked by the socio-economic difficulties influencing all areas of its development. In these circumstances, an active pursuit of the EU enlargement policy and maintaining its momentum remained a strategic goal for the region and the EU, taking also into account the importance of regional cooperation as an essential element of the overall enlargement and the Stabilisation and Association Process in particular.

While the EU continued to be the strongest anchor of stabilization and reforms, key role in consolidating regional cooperation has been played by the SEECP, as the most relevant regional political structure, fully regionally owned and governed from the very beginning, the RCC, as well as over 50 different regional organizations, initiatives and networks operating in different areas of common interest for the countries in the region (parliamentary dimension, ministries of culture, ministries of science, etc.).

Based on the achievements and the increased in-depth knowledge of the region and its needs, as well as the EU accession requirements, the RCC has developed its second SWP 2014-2016. The new phase in consolidating regional cooperation and making it more effective is marked by the SEE 2020, a Job-creating Growth and EU Integration Strategy, which has become the backbone of the RCC SWP 2014-2016, aligning the region with Europe 2020.

The SEE 2020 strategy places regional cooperation in a clear and coherent framework, linking national priorities with regional platforms and identifying the most important gaps to be addressed over the long term. Quantitative strategic targets adopted by the region’s economies in the areas of economic growth, trade, investment, education, employment and governance are being translated into policy objectives, with action plans at both national and regional levels being developed.

The December 2012 Conclusions of the Council of the EU recalled the role of the RCC and welcomed its focus on the growth targets in the context of the SEE 2020 strategy.

The RCC also continued to be engaged in ensuring the respect of the principle of all-inclusiveness by successfully organizing different events and meetings with presence of all its participants from SEE. In this respect, the RCC Board adopted a decision providing for an effective participation of Kosovo* within the RCC. This decision shows the ability of the region to take responsibility for its own future and create conditions for overall progress in the spirit of tolerance and cooperation.

On 27 February 2013, the RCC marked its 5th anniversary with a panel discussion and inauguration of Champion of Regional Cooperation – annual award for best achievement in cooperation in SEE. The discussion Five years of Regional Cooperation Council: Building on foundations and embracing new challenges focused on achievements and future challenges of regional cooperation in SEE. The Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) 2006 became the first Champion of Regional Cooperation. The award is given to an individual or an institution that has contributed the most to the development of regional cooperation.

The RCC received the traditional Sloboda (Freedom) award by the International Peace Centre Sarajevo (IPC) for an extraordinary contribution to humanism, fight for human rights and freedom in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe and the world.

In pursuing its mission in the period ahead, the RCC will continue to deploy multidimensional activities, thereby guiding and monitoring regional cooperation and taking fully into account regional needs and interests. The focus of its work will be on the implementation of the new SWP 2014-2016 and, in particular, on the finalization of the SEE 2020 strategy and coordination of activities related to the achievement of its goals.

The full EU membership remained a strategic goal for the region and the EU. And both the region and the EU continue to invest their efforts within the EU enlargement policy aimed at maintaining its momentum and making progress in the accession process.

A range of specific targets in each of the priority area of the SWP 2011-2013 have been achieved:

  • South East Europe Investment Committee (SEEIC) proved to be the key catalyst and the main development vehicle for SEE 2020 strategy which included a substantial dimension provided by the Social Agenda for the Western Balkans 2020;

  • Several initiatives were launched regarding sustainable energy development and energy efficiency, road and air transport and water management and climate change in the SEE;

  • Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism to measure progress achieved  by the 2011-2013 Regional Strategic Document in the area of Justice and Home Affairs became operational;

  • Creating regional mechanism of cooperation among the Chiefs of Military Intelligence (SEEMIC), the Heads of the South East European National Security Authorities (SEENSA), and the South East European Counter-Intelligence Chiefs Forum (SEECIC) enhanced the dialogue and common analytical activities in this area;

  • Finalizing the Regional Strategy for Research and Development for Innovation for the Western Balkans and implementing the second phase of the Ljubljana Process through the RCC Task Force on Culture and Society contributed to smart dimensions of the SEE growth;

  • The parliamentary cooperation both in the SEECP format and related to the acquis adoption in the Western Balkans has got a boost in the reporting period;

  • Networking and cooperation through the European Association of Public Service Media in SEE and Academy on Media Law, both established with the RCC support, became an asset in the media development in the region.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.



5th RCC Annual Meeting endorsed the organisation's new strategy for the 2014-2016 period and the Annual Report on its activities over the past 12 months (Photo: RCC Annual Report 2012-2013)

5th RCC Annual Meeting endorsed the organisation's new strategy for the 2014-2016 period and the Annual Report on its activities over the past 12 months (Photo: RCC Annual Report 2012-2013)