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Milan Marković, General Manager, Smurfit Kappa Belgrade

Returning Treated Water to the Danube

Here Milan Marković, General Manager of Smurfit Kappa Belgrade, shares his insights about the company’s legacy and innovative strides in environmental protection Founded in 1921...

Bogdan Gavrilović, Managing Director, WTO Serbia

Transport and Logistics Without Borders

World Transport Overseas is one of the fastest-growing logistics companies in Eastern Europe, with branches in Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia,...

Vesna Jovanović, Director, EurologSystem

Connecting Italy and Serbia by Rail

EurologSystem, which is set to commemorate two decades of successful operations in 2025, transports an average of 500,000 tons of goods annually, primarily agricultural...

Branko Milikić, Business Development Director at Halcom Serbia

Innovations in Digital Banking

Halcom is a leader in the domain of digital banking and banking solutions. This company has spent 30 years enabling the safe and efficient...

Dragana Ašić Ratkovac, Business Manager Consulting & Tax Advisor at Unija Consulting d.o.o. Beograd

Our View of the Tax World and What’s Important

The success of companies in today’s world depends, among other things, on the ability to adapt to constant amendments to tax laws. My experience...

Branimir Jovanović, Economist At The Vienna Institute For International Economic Studies

The EU And The Western Balkans Still Need Each Other

The importance of the Western Balkans is primarily strategic and political. If the EU pushes the region away, it will turn towards Russia and China, which will bring many challenges for the EU

The troubled relationship between the EU and the Western Balkans comes as no surprise. After all, it seems as though the two sides have nothing much in common except mutual dislike.

The Western Balkans are disappointed by the EU’s broken promises and its constant shifting of the goalposts. They feel that the EU doesn’t really care about the region and views it only as a source of cheap labour that it can exploit even without granting membership.

The EU, on the other hand, isn’t too happy with the Western Balkans’ track record on corruption and is worried about rising authoritarianism in the region, which it sees as being a big problem if the region joins the EU. It also feels like the region is only interested in using the EU as a cash cow.

There’s some truth in those complaints, but the big question is: what happens if the two sides really do split up?

The Western Balkan region is heavily dependent on the EU for trade and investment. The EU buys around two-thirds of the region’s exports, contributes around two-thirds to foreign investments and provides hundreds of millions of euros annually to each of the regional economies through the IPA funds. If the region were to break up with the EU, it could face significant economic consequences.

While the western Balkan region is heavily dependent on the EU for trade and investment, the EU is already reaping basically all the benefits that the region may offer: brains and talented individuals, cheap labour and low taxes

For the EU, the economic incentives are far smaller. It is already reaping basically all the benefits it could from the Western Balkans: it is taking its brains and talented individuals, selling its products on its markets and taking advantage of cheap labour and low taxes. But the importance of the Western Balkans for the EU is not economic. It is primarily strategic and political. If the EU pushes the region away, the region will turn towards Russia and China, which will bring many challenges for the EU.

The EU and the Western Balkans therefore MUST understand that they need each other and that they will both be worse off if they separate.

The EU, as the bigger partner, should take the first step and show that it really cares about the Western Balkans by speeding up the accession process. While granting membership candidate status to Bosnia-Herzegovina and launching accession talks with Albania were good steps, more needs to be done to speed things up for the rest of the region. Moreover, the EU should provide greater financial support to the region, because the current support provided through the IPA funds is not enough to improve living standards.

The Western Balkan region needs to show its commitment to implementing the necessary reforms in areas like combating corruption, upholding the rule of law and promoting democracy and equality. It should demonstrate to the EU that the accession process is viewed as an opportunity to improve Western Balkan societies and provide a better life for citizens, rather than just a way to extract money and enrich corrupt elites. The time is now.

By Emmanuel B. Nyirinkindi, IFC's Vice President of Cross-Cutting Solutions

Public-Private Partnerships Key to Serbia’s Green Future

Five years ago, dark, polluted water with a foul smell trickled down from the Vinča landfill, sending toxic pollutants into the Danube. The landfill,...

Comment by Zoran Panovic

Growth Plan

Late April saw the European Parliament give the green light to the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, with the Council of the European...

Dr Aleksandar Mitić, Institute for International Politics and Economy

Cooperation with China Raised to the Highest Level in Europe

Both Germany and France desire close cooperation with China, so any criticism of Serbia’s close relations with China is an example of double standards I...

Slobodan Zečević Ph.D, Institute for European Studies

Delicate Seesaw

France and Germany have contrasting views on cooperation with China, but the internal reasons for such views don’t automatically relate to their stance regarding...

Mickoski Proposes New Government for North Macedonia

Hristijan Mickoski, leader of VMRO-DPMNE and the designated Prime Minister of North Macedonia, has formally submitted his proposed cabinet...

King Frederick X Inaugurates First Section of Undersea Tunnel Connecting Denmark and Germany

King Frederick X of Denmark has inaugurated the first segment of the ambitious 18-kilometre Fehmarn Belt tunnel beneath the...

Belgrade Hotel Union Sold for €6.2 Million

Hotel Union, a historic landmark in Belgrade, has been sold for 727 million dinars (€6.2 million) at a public...

French Firms Suez and Vinci to Oversee Wastewater Treatment in Belgrade

The Serbian government has enlisted French companies Suez International SAS and Vinci Construction Grands Projets for the design, construction,...

Dušan Živković Named New CEO of Elektroprivreda Srbije

Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) has announced the appointment of Dušan Živković as its new Chief Executive Officer, following a decision...

Mickoski Proposes New Government for North Macedonia

Hristijan Mickoski, leader of VMRO-DPMNE and the designated Prime Minister of North Macedonia, has formally submitted his proposed cabinet...

King Frederick X Inaugurates First Section of Undersea Tunnel Connecting Denmark and Germany

King Frederick X of Denmark has inaugurated the first segment of the ambitious 18-kilometre Fehmarn Belt tunnel beneath the...

Belgrade Hotel Union Sold for €6.2 Million

Hotel Union, a historic landmark in Belgrade, has been sold for 727 million dinars (€6.2 million) at a public...

Public-Private Partnerships Key to Serbia’s Green Future

Five years ago, dark, polluted water with a foul smell trickled down from the Vinča landfill, sending toxic pollutants...

German Voters Dominate, Malta Least Represented in Upcoming European Parliament Elections

As the 2024 European Parliament elections draw near, set to take place from 6 to 9 June, Eurostat has...

Mickoski Proposes New Government for North Macedonia

Hristijan Mickoski, leader of VMRO-DPMNE and the designated Prime Minister of North Macedonia, has formally submitted his proposed cabinet...

King Frederick X Inaugurates First Section of Undersea Tunnel Connecting Denmark and Germany

King Frederick X of Denmark has inaugurated the first segment of the ambitious 18-kilometre Fehmarn Belt tunnel beneath the...

Belgrade Hotel Union Sold for €6.2 Million

Hotel Union, a historic landmark in Belgrade, has been sold for 727 million dinars (€6.2 million) at a public...

Public-Private Partnerships Key to Serbia’s Green Future

Five years ago, dark, polluted water with a foul smell trickled down from the Vinča landfill, sending toxic pollutants...

German Voters Dominate, Malta Least Represented in Upcoming European Parliament Elections

As the 2024 European Parliament elections draw near, set to take place from 6 to 9 June, Eurostat has...
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