RCC-organized conference on Western Balkans and Europe 2020 to discuss growth in the region, gather close to 50 institutions and donors

24 March 2011

RCC’s mission is to inspire development and economic growth in South East Europe. (Photo RCC/Igor Banskoliev)

RCC’s mission is to inspire development and economic growth in South East Europe. (Photo RCC/Igor Banskoliev)

SARAJEVO/BRUSSELS – A Western Balkans and Europe 2020 – Towards Convergence and Growth coordination meeting of regional initiatives and interested donor institutions will take place in Brussels, on 30-31 March 2011. The event will be organized by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat.

The conference compliments goals of the European Union’s Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, particularly in view of the Western Balkans countries’ preparations for future EU membership.

Over 100 participants will debate possible new growth model for the region, methods to unleash competitiveness, support infrastructure development and sustainable growth, as well as explore ways to complement and add value to national efforts through regional programmes.

During the conference, the RCC Secretariat will present preliminary findings of its survey of regional initiatives and task forces operating within, and directed towards, the countries of South East Europe, conducted in the first quarter of 2011. 30 initiatives contributed to the survey on general and institutional aspects, funding, projects and actions, as well as coordination activities needed to make them more effective.

The two-day event will bring together representatives of over 30 regional initiatives and task forces, almost 15 leading international financial institutions and bilateral donors, as well as representatives of European Commission and European Parliament (EP).

The participants will be welcomed in the European Parliament by Hido Biscevic, RCC Secretary General; Eduard Kukan, Member of the EP and Chairman of the Delegation for relations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo; and Michael Leigh, Director-General for Enlargement of the European Commission.

The meeting will provide the regional initiatives with an opportunity to demonstrate the relevance of their activities in contributing to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the region. The interactive format will allow them to discuss with the European Commission, bilateral and multilateral donors, and international financial institutions some of the main challenges that must be addressed to achieve those goals.

The conference is expected to reach a general agreement on the role of the RCC Secretariat in fostering the objectives of Europe 2020 in the Western Balkans, to be executed in close cooperation with other regional initiatives focused on different aspects of reforms and development in South East Europe.

Increased effectiveness, better insight at the level of policy development, enhanced translation of regionally-agreed reforms to the national level, improved programming of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) towards Europe 2020 goals are possible outcomes of the event.

The RCC Secretariat has started a reflection on Europe 2020 and the role of Western Balkans last year. The Secretariat has initiated a discussion on reorienting policies away from crisis management towards the introduction of longer-term reforms that promote growth and employment and ensure the sustainability of public finances. The regional coordination conference is a step forward in framing regional activities in a way most helpful to Western Balkans countries as they prepare for future EU membership.

Journalists are invited to the conference, which will open at the European Parliament (EP), Espace Leopold, Brussels, on 30 March 2011, at 6.30 p.m. The second day of the event will take place at the RCC Liaison Office, EFTA building, rue Joseph II, 12-16, Brussels, at 9 a.m. A draft programme is available HERE.

Please note that only the EP-accredited journalists will be allowed access to the first day of the conference. Should you wish to attend the opening event at the European Parliament you may obtain temporary access, by sending your details with a copy of your press badge and identity card to press@rcc.int by 3 p.m. on 28 March 2011.

More information on the event is available HERE.