EU role in preserving South East European market from crisis vital, RCC Secretary General tells European Commission
BRUSSELS/SARAJEVO – In times of economic crisis, a key strategic interest of South East European countries is to ensure that the regional market, as one of the most dynamic emerging markets in the world, is preserved and economic activities enhanced, said Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Hido Biščević, at a meeting with EU Commission’s Director General for Enlargement, Michael Leigh, in Brussels today.
Secretary General Biscevic handed Director Leigh a letter for EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, outlining concrete proposals for countering the spill-over effects of economic recession and financial crisis on South East Europe (SEE), based on numerous contacts with high officials of SEE countries.
“Being fully aware of the current world crisis, the countries of the region are ready to work jointly in minimizing its impacts,” said Biscevic. “The region however cannot do it alone and needs coherent, strategic and common policies to be applied by the European Union and other international partners, including international financial institutions.”
“In this context, we would like the EU to consider maximizing access to its funds by the SEE countries. I believe this would open up a wider discussion on large scale projects in the fields of infrastructure and energy among the countries of the region, European Commission and leading international financial institutions.”
Director Leigh confirmed the European Commission’s continued support to the region and the work of the RCC, and in this context also recalled the Commission’s Crisis Response Package and allocation of 120 million euro under the 2009 IPA. It is hoped that these funds would generate additional financial support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Council of Europe Development Bank and other leading European banking institutions.
During the visit to Brussels, Secretary General Biscevic also held a briefing at the European Policy Centre on the present situation in SEE, and the role, achievements and challenges facing the RCC. He pointed out the critical importance of the upcoming period when political leaderships in SEE will be called for additional level of responsibility and urgency in dealing with EU oriented reforms and in addressing remaining open issues.
“I believe it would be worthwhile to consider some form of a political commitment by the aspiring EU countries from the region to follow European standards and decouple their bilateral relations from the accession process, as they all strive towards the same goal and should continue to support and assist each other along the way,” concluded Biscevic.