RCC and Regional Initiatives and Task Forces in South East Europe
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
In the Economic and Social Development priority area, the RCC is partnering with 15 regional initiatives – eight promoting business and investment climate in SEE; five contributing to social cohesion; and two connected to the promotion of the information/knowledge- based society. These regional initiatives and structures are bestowing to the RCC, as a non-implementing agency, the ability to intervene and achieve objectives in its main areas of involvement within economic and social development. Interaction of the RCC with these structures is twofold – activities aimed at providing institutional support (such as political support, legal advice, best practice dissemination, fund-raising facilitation, etc.) and RCC expertise (helping set the agenda, defining priority areas and objectives, streamlining with other stakeholders, etc.). The degree of RCC involvement with regional partners varies according to the level of development of the initiative and its scope of work. A good example of RCC’s intervention is the SEE Public Private Partnership Network, which has been established with a high level of political, organisational, logistic, fund-raising and networking involvement of the RCC.
With a couple of regional initiatives, the RCC has developed common programmes and joint activities, provided systematic exchange of information, as well as transfer of knowledge and joint training facilities (SEE Investment Committee, CEFTA 2006, Centre for eGovernance Development, eSEE Initiative, SEE Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group of SEE). It also helped some regional initiatives to widen the scope of their partnerships and identify interested donors.
1. South East European Investment Committee (SEEIC) – Paris
SEEIC is a high-level coordination body that supports the implementation of policies promoting foreign and domestic investment. It aims to develop guidelines for implementation of policy reforms along the priority areas identified in the Investment Reform Index (IRI) and monitor implementation of the OECD Regional Framework for Investment. Members of SEEIC include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia. SEEIC was launched in 2007 after the signature of a ministerial statement on the regional framework for investment in SEE, in Vienna, on 27 June 2006.
SEEIC will act as the investment policy arm of the RCC. By April 2011, the SEE Investment Committee, supported by the Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat, will be fully responsible for management and coordination of regional activities to improve the investment climate.
2. Central European Free Trade Agreement 2006 (CEFTA) – Brussels
CEFTA, in its current form, came into existence through the Agreement to amend and enlarge the Central European Free Trade – CEFTA 2006 that was signed by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (under its constitutional name), Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and UNMIK/Kosovo. The main objectives of the agreement are to expand trade in goods and services and foster investment by means of fair, stable and predictable rules, eliminate barriers to trade between the members, provide appropriate protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with international standards and harmonize provisions on modern trade policy issues, such as competition rules and state aid. The CEFTA Secretariat provides technical and administrative support to CEFTA structures in regional trade liberalization efforts. The Secretariat was established in 2008, after the decision of the Joint Committee of CEFTA in Ohrid on 28 September 2007.
The RCC will continue its support to the CEFTA Secretariat on specific issues and initiatives that it deems important for increasing access to markets for regional companies, such as diagonal cumulation of origin and labour mobility. RCC will also extend its support to the operation of CEFTA 2006 Regional Academic Network.
3. CEFTA Forum of Chambers of Commerce, rotating
The forum has been created to promote CEFTA to its members and allow for better dialogue with governments and CEFTA structures. The Chambers have established working groups that mirror the CEFTA structures – Working Group on Agriculture, Working Group on Customs and Working Group on Non-Tariff Barriers. Members include Chambers of Commerce from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and UNMIK/Kosovo.
4. Business Advisory Council for South East Europe (BACSEE or BAC) – Thessaloniki
BAC serves as the private sector arm of RCC. BAC aims to articulate and reflect the concerns and proposals of the private sector regarding the reconstruction and development process of the Balkans. BAC membership includes international investors and business representatives from more than 20 countries. The declaration on establishment of BAC for SEE was adopted in Skopje on 11 December 2002. Members include businessmen from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, UNMIK/Kosovo etc.
By acting as the private sector arm of RCC, BAC provides advice and information to the RCC on private sector-related issues.
5. South East European Public Private Partnership Network (SEEPPPN) – Zagreb (temporarily)
The role of SEEPPPN is to coordinate regional exchange of knowledge and expertise on PPPs, support assessment and propose measures for further development and harmonization of South East Europe’s PPP environment, and identify viable regional infrastructure development projects. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, and UNMIK/Kosovo are part of the Network. SEEPPPN was established by a ministerial statement on Public-Private Partnerships for Infrastructure Development in South East Europe signed in Sarajevo, on 25 September 2009 and the temporary Secretariat of the Network is located at the PPP Agency of the Republic of Croatia.
6. Regional Network of National Investment Promotion Agencies in the South East European Region (RNIPA), rotating
RNIPA aims to promote investment potential and encourage activities relating to economic cooperation among SEE countries. The agencies will share their experience and information about foreign investment promotion and partner on investment promotion efforts. Agencies from Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia are part of the Network. The MoU on the establishment of RNIPA was signed in Vienna on 8 June 2009.
RCC envisions close cooperation with RNIPA in promoting SEE as a single market for foreign investment.
7. South East European Regional Network of Policy Makers – Belgrade (IFC)
Based on an initiative of the International Finance Corporation, the Network was established in 2007 at the Regional Conference on Business Environment Reform in South East Europe, held in Zagreb. Its aim is to support business environment reform in the region by facilitating exchange of experiences among policymakers, and to strengthen the competitiveness of local and national economies. The Network is an open community of professionals who play a role in business environment reform – participants from national and sub-national governments and administrations, parliaments, business community, academic experts, international and local experts, donors, and other stakeholders whose contribution is necessary to support private sector development and sustain economic growth. Members come from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
8. South East European Women Entrepreneurs Network – to be established
RCC intends to establish a network of women entrepreneurs in SEE as part of an effort to support women entrepreneurship in SEE. The network will help advocate, exchange experiences and provide political support in building an environment conducive to women in business throughout SEE. The Network will include members from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Moldova, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and UNMIK/Kosovo. The network will be developed in cooperation with the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce Working Group on Women Entrepreneurship.
9. The Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group of South East Europe (RRDSWG) – Skopje
RRDSWG is an intergovernmental organisation for regional rural development in SEE, which serves as a platform for regional cooperation in the field of agriculture, food, rural economic development and trade with agro and food products. It was founded based on the conclusions of Leipzig Agricultural Policy Forum in 2004 and Agricultural Policy Forum in 2005. Members include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, UNMIK/Kosovo. The RCC and the RRDSWG signed a MoU on Cooperation in the Area of Agriculture, Rural and Economic Development, Environmental Protection and Food Safety in 2009.
10. Association of Balkan Chambers, rotating
The Association of Balkan Chambers of Commerce was established in 1994 with the aim of assisting business activities in the Balkans. Members include Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Turkey and Serbia. The main priorities of ABC are: development of cooperation among the business communities in the Balkan region, as well as with third parties; encouragement and support of activities aimed at structural changes in the economies of Balkan countries with the view to EU accession; initiation and implementation of global interest projects for the Balkan region; representing, through the Association, interests of the member Chambers in front of international bodies; joint participation in EU programmes and other partnership programmes.
11. South East European Employment and Social Policy Network (SEEESPN)
Based on the Bucharest Declaration of 2003, a permanent high-level committee has periodically met to review national employment policies and quality of service delivery in employment services and improvement of programmes specifically designed for vulnerable groups. Members include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and UNMIK/Kosovo. Currently, the committee has evolved into the Employment and Social Policy Network for SEE.
Taking stock of the achievements of country reviews of employment policies and based on the conclusions of Budva Ministerial Meeting in October 2007, the Network will act as a permanent regional working-level cooperation mechanism for sharing, disseminating, and managing knowledge and good practices in the realm of employment and social policy.
12. Centre of Public Employment Services of South East European Countries (CPESSC), rotating
CPESSEC is a regional non-profit organisation that unites national public institutions or government departments responsible for the implementation of labour market policies or for manpower management. Established in 2009, CPESSC aims to facilitate the exchange of information and experiences in all activities related to providing services to employers, and job-seekers and to improving the capacities of public employment services in South East Europe.
Members include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. The RCC supports the activities of the Centre and is interested in ensuring its closer links with the SEE Employment and Social Policy Network. The CPESSC was established by a partnership protocol signed in 2006 in Sofia. Guidelines for operation were approved in 2007 in Belgrade.
13. South East European Trade Union Forum (SEETUF) – Zagreb/Sarajevo
The South East European Trade Union Forum was established in 1999. Bringing together the heads of national trade unions of SEE countries, its purpose is to promote the social dimension of ongoing economic reforms in the region. Members come from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, UNMIK/Kosovo.
14. Adriatic Region Employers’ Centre (AREC) – Zagreb
AREC was established in 2008 to formalize the structure of regional cooperation among organisations of employers in SEE. The purpose of the Centre – which will also be open to other business associations – is to promote projects, cooperation and exchange of views and knowledge between partners in the region. It also promotes a business-friendly environment favourable to local and foreign investments as well as representing regional business associations vis-à-vis major international partners. The statute of the Adriatic Region Employers’ Centre (AREC) was adopted on 27 March 2008. Members come from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
RCC is committed to promoting bi-partite and tri-partite social dialogue at the regional level and advocating the inclusion of social partners in government policy-making.
15. South East European Health Network – Skopje
Founded in 2001 based on the Dubrovnik Pledge, the SEE Health Network is a political forum set up to coordinate, implement and evaluate the commitments of Dubrovnik Pledge and its regional projects for developing health policy and services. The main purpose of the Network is to provide leadership and sustain project ownership by the countries in the region. SEE Health Network is supported by a Secretariat located in Skopje, and the members include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia.
The RCC and the SEEHN have signed an MoU on their future cooperation. RCC will continue providing political support and representation to the SEE Health Network and its regional activities and assist the Network in coordinating its activities with other initiatives relevant to regional cooperation in the area of public health.
16. Centre for eGovernance Development (CeGD) – Ljubljana
CeGD was established in January 2008 as a PPP effort in order to address training, educational, consulting and research issues related to eGovernance throughout the region. CeGD is a decentralized regional network of programmes and training support, with an administrative focal point situated in Ljubljana, Slovenia, providing an overall coordination to regional activities.
RCC participates in the management and supervisory boards of CeGD and sets the agenda for regional knowledge-sharing and capacity-building in the area of online public services.
17. eSEE Initiative (Sarajevo) and bSEE Task Force
The Electronic South Eastern Europe (eSEE) Initiative was launched in Istanbul in October 2000 and is supported by the eSEE Secretariat hosted in Sarajevo by UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina Country Office since 2002. The aim of the eSEE Initiative is to better integrate SEE countries into the global knowledge-based economy by regionally supporting the development of Information Society. Members include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and UNMIK/Kosovo. The Broadband South East Europe (bSEE) Task Force was formed following the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding on Development of Unified Market of Broadband Networks at the Ministerial Conference in Thessaloniki (2005). Both eSEE Initiative and bSEE Task Force operate under the RCC umbrella to promote a single, open and competitive regional ICT market.