Newsletter 4/2010 - Our South East Europe

Regional Cooperation Council: The next three years, by Jelica Minic, Deputy RCC Secretary General and Head of Expert Pool

The Regional Cooperation Council’s (RCC) Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013 was adopted by the RCC Board on 17 June 2010 and endorsed by the Heads of State and Government of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) in Istanbul six days later, on 23 June 2010.

The main message sent during these meetings was that the RCC became credible organization of the region and an important coordination mechanism. High-level participants expressed their confidence in the RCC future. Moreover, the adoption of the organization’s 2009-2010 Annual Report and the Strategy for 2011-2013 was marked by a satisfaction with a fully participative approach to the preparation of these key documents and with commitments expressed for future activities. It was stated that a horizontal integration of the region with enhanced sectoral implementation of EU acquis became evident and succeeded in developing a strategic approach – an effort that should be continued by developing a new vision for the Western Balkans along the lines of Europe 2020.

The RCC Strategy is a result of a long and complex process of consultations and adjustments to numerous expectations and proposals of the South East European and other RCC members, as well as other international or regional stakeholders. Its development was an exciting exercise that translated the will and the interests of diverse stakeholders into a unique vision through an inclusive and transparent process. The RCC held permanent consultations with the European Commission, in particular the Directorate General for Enlargement, which made a substantial contribution to better focusing and prioritization in each of the six main areas of the RCC work – economic and social development, infrastructure and energy, justice and home affairs, security cooperation, building human capital, and parliamentary cooperation.

This interactive process led to achieving a full regional ownership in setting up mid-term strategic guidelines. It helped attain full compliance of regional cooperation in South East Europe with European and Euro-Atlantic agenda, in accordance with the RCC mission.

As with the High Level EU-Western Balkans Meeting, held in Sarajevo on 2 June 2010, the adoption of the RCC Strategy was accompanied by positive messages regarding future EU enlargement and its regional dimension. On their side, Western Balkan countries reiterated their vital interest in full EU integration.

RCC efforts in the 2011-2013 period will focus on the following activities, in addition to  its general role of monitoring and reporting on developments in South East Europe:

Economic and Social Development

In this field, the RCC will implement the transfer of the South East European Investment Committee from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to the region, with support of the European Commission, by June 2011.

We will explore opportunities for establishing a regionally-owned development finance vehicles. In close cooperation with other international stakeholders, the RCC will help revive activities of the Employment and Social Policy Network, as well as further develop synergies with the Regional Programme on Social Security Coordination and Social Security Reforms in South East Europe, currently being implemented by the European Commission and the Council of Europe. We will also support the establishment of a regional consultative assembly composed of social partners and civil society.

The RCC will work with the eSEE Secretariat, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the eSEE Working Group consisting of representatives of relevant ministries, to update the eSEE Agenda Plus and better reflect current realities in the ICT sector. A network of regional ICT research institutions will be established and developed and will be linked more closely to the private sector. To that end, the RCC will use the expertise of the Centre for eGovernance Development.

Infrastructure and energy

The RCC will continue to implement the Sustainable Energy Development Regional Initiative (SEDRI), jointly launched with the Central European Initiative (CEI). The initiative aims at encouraging construction of small-scale sustainable energy facilities amongst interested members from South East Europe and at improving legislative, institutional and regulatory framework conducive to developing sustainable energy sector. We will contribute to the preparation and implementation of the Danube Region Strategy, bringing the perspective of the wider region.

The RCC will explore the potential for further development of air services within the region in order to prepare a feasibility study on this matter. It will contribute to the promotion of road safety by supporting implementation of relevant EU directives and UN resolution.

Justice and Home Affairs

Our key activity in this sector is coordination of preparation of a Regional Strategy and Action Plan on Justice and Home Affairs 2011-2014, and subsequent monitoring of its implementation. The RCC will establish a working group to study the prerequisites for closer cooperation among police, prosecution and judiciary. Our experts will support the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative in focusing its activities on sharing good practices and addressing corruption at local and regional level.

Security Cooperation

The RCC will facilitate and support development of regional mechanisms with high impact on confidence building, such as the South East European Defence Policy Directors Forum, the Forum of South East European National Authorities on Information Security, the South East European Defence Intelligence Forum and the South East European Counter-Intelligence Chiefs Forum, ensuring inclusion of civil society in the process. It will continue its work towards establishment of regional structures for disaster risk reduction, including the South East Europe Firefighting Regional Centre, in cooperation with international partners.

Building Human Capital

As of 2011, the RCC will take over coordination of the Ljubljana Process on cultural heritage. A Task Force on Culture and Society will be established by the RCC, and a permanent secretariat will be designated by the RCC in cooperation with the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

The RCC will support education reform, with emphasis on higher education. These activities will be realised together with other regional and European initiatives. Special attention will be paid to the development of a Regional Strategy for Research and Development for Innovation for the Western Balkans, co-financed by the European Commission. A comprehensive regional research strategy will be developed, to identify existing research capacities, and establish or improve cooperation among Western Balkans institutes and researchers.

Parliamentary Cooperation

In this area, we will focus on assisting the SEECP in developing the parliamentary dimension of its work, and on the institutionalisation of the Cetinje Parliamentary Forum.

In conclusion, two and a half years since it has been established, the RCC now enters a new, mature phase with the clearly defined agenda, time frame and established partnership network. Top politicians from the region stated in Istanbul last month that since 1991, there has not been such a good cooperation in South East Europe. No doubt, the RCC is playing a role in improving general political climate and paving the way, also through its mid-term Strategy, for even stronger and more substantial interconnections in this part of Europe.

The integral version of the 2011-2013 RCC Strategy and Work Programme is available at the RCC website (

Jelica Minic, PhD, has been Deputy RCC Secretary General and Head of Expert Pool since May 2008. A Serbian national, she has previously served in diplomatic, civil society and other posts, most notably as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary General of the European Movement in Serbia. She also published over 150 articles, essays and book chapters, around 50 conference papers, and edited several books and reviews.


Jelica Minić is Head of the Expert Pool. (Photo RCC/Dejan Vekić)

Jelica Minić is Head of the Expert Pool. (Photo RCC/Dejan Vekić)