Officials seek a co-operative effort in the region to create jobs and improve the economy in Southeast Europe.
By Ana Lovaković for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 03/10/13
The Regional Co-operation Council presented the strategy in Belgrade last month. [Nikola Barbutov/SETimes]
Countries in Southeast Europe are considering a co-operative strategy in which officials hope to create 1 million new jobs in the region.
The Regional Co-operation Council has outlined a series of goals in Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia and Serbia, urging officials to improve efficiency and innovation. The most recent presentation was Tuesday (October 1st) in Albania.
The goals include increasing employment from 39 to 44 percent regionwide, boosting trade in goods and services from 94 billion euros annually to 209 billion euros annually, reducing the regional deficit from -15 percent to -12 percent of GDP and increasing the number of highly educated people.
"Achieving these ambitious strategic objectives should contribute to the opening of millions of new jobs in Southeast Europe by 2020. To achieve this, countries must improve innovation, skills and trade. What is most important is that the governments should be much more efficient than they are today," Hamdo Tinjak, BiH secretary of foreign trade and economic relations, told SETimes.
Tinjak, who is a member of the Southeast European Investment Committee, said that the goals' realisation require discipline, political will and co-operation.
Inspired by the Europe 2020 strategy that was launched in 2010 by EU member states to spark sustainable growth in a negative economy, the Southeastern Europe economy ministers adopted 11 regional and 77 national targets and charted out a comprehensive co-operation agenda for the strategy last year.
The strategy is centred on five development pillars: creating sound policies, innovation, private sector competitiveness, job creation and improved rule of law.
"This is a strategic development attempt to consolidate all the resources that we have in the region in order to increase growth and development. We're trying to connect educational systems with labour market requirements and connect work of professionals as well as to promote the values of the culture and creative industries," Mladen Dragašević, the council head for building human capital and parliamentary co-operation, told SETimes.
The success of the strategy depends on whether the countries can achieve sustained economic growth, which is the foundation of prosperity and job creation, as well as making progress in catching up with EU, Sanjin Arifagić, strategy co-ordinator and senior council official for economic and social development, told SETimes.
"The main objective of the strategy is to improve living conditions in the region and restore competitiveness and development," Arifagić said.
Svetlana Georgievska, council expert for infrastructure, said the activities set through the five pillars are measurable, so the implementation of the strategy will be transparent.
"The start of implementation is planned for 2014. Every country builds its priorities, and on that basis implements the strategy," Gergievska told SETimes.
Bashkim Sykja, a director at the Albania Economic Ministry, told SETimes that the strategy is in line with the government's plans.
"The strategy is part of our commitment to come closer to EU strategies and to regional co-operation and development," Sykja said Tuesday.
Correspondent Lindita Komani in Tirana contributed to this report.
How can the countries in the region work to achieve the goals set by the Regional Co-operation Council strategy? Tell us your thoughts below.