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Nicolas Marquier, Regional Manager for the Western Balkans at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Financing the Future

IFC, the largest global development institution, has provided almost $1 billion in financing to Serbia’s private sector over the past six years IFC, as a...

Dr Ivan Todorović, Todorović Law Firm

Dedicated Advisors and Tenacious Litigators

The Todorović Law Firm has existed for more than 30 years and throughout that time has demonstrated its unwavering dedication to continuously advancing at...

Marija Stojiljković, Founder, Royal Nanny

Children Deserve the Best Nannies

Royal Nanny offers a wide range of childcare services, primarily through mediating between professional nannies and families, providing responsible, meticulous, trained and caring individuals Starting...

Petar Miljković, CEO, 14. Oktobar d.o.o.

Employees are the Company’s Real Strength

This former Kruševac giant, which has come a long way over the course of 100 years of operations, developing from a construction machinery factory...

Ivana Bogdanović, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Addiko Bank

CSR as a Longstanding Priority

In today’s world, where gaining the trust of clients is the most important aspect of a company’s business, CSR, or socially responsible operations, represents...

Milorad Filipović, Professor at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Economics

The Plan Is Good, But Not Generous

The Western Balkan countries’ public investment needs are incomparably higher than the amount earmarked for the plan, which means that it will continue to be extremely important for these countries to have access to the international capital market

The countries of the Western Balkans are back in the “focus” of EU policy following several years in which all attention was focused on the conflict in Ukraine. Following a certain degree of mutual fatigue in cooperation between the EU and the Western Balkan countries, due primarily to contrasting interpretations of that cooperation, it is as if Europe’s developed countries realised that the Western Balkan region – and Serbia in particular, as the largest economy in that region – also has other alternatives besides the EU when it comes to economic, financial and political cooperation.

China’s rising economic influence and Russia’s political influence in Serbia send a signal to the EU that it must lead a more active policy in the region if it wants to integrate it into EU structures. This was stressed openly by Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán in a recent interview with the Austrian media, with him adding that the number one priority of Hungary’s EU presidency, from 1st July 2024, will be Serbia’s swift integration in order to prevent the country from slipping towards China or Russia. As such, the €6 billion European growth plan should represent the main motivational “carrot” for Western Balkan countries.

An emphasis should be placed on applying the highest standards in the construction of infrastructure, as well as advanced technologies that would raise the level of competitiveness of the Western Balkan countries

Although the European growth plan seems impressive at first glance, it is but a drop in the ocean when compared to the grants awarded to Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria in their accession processes. This is particularly accurate when considering that the plan in question applies to five (or 6, according to the EU) Western Balkan countries. On the other hand, the public investment needs of the Western Balkan countries are incomparably higher than the amount earmarked for the plan, which means that it will continue to be extremely important for these countries to have access to the international capital market. The priority in the Western Balkans’ development should be given to connecting these countries in terms of infrastructure (roads, energy connections, transport and information infrastructure), as well as increasing mutual exchanges of goods and services. An emphasis should be placed on applying the highest standards in the construction of infrastructure, as well as advanced technologies that would raise the level of competitiveness of the region’s countries.

As for Serbia and the nationalised plan to develop through EXPO 27, it is striking that there has been no presenting of the study that was prepared (by consulting company Horváth) with the aim of acquiring this project. As with any investment study, it should have considered the cost-effectiveness of the project, the kind of financial construction envisaged, the expected effects until 2027 and beyond etc., all the way up to the financial and socioeconomic analysis of the return on the investment. Unfortunately, political events unfolding in 2024 threaten to cast serious doubt over the possibility of utilising funds from the European plan due to the setting of political conditions. And this would cause the complete disruption of Serbia’s plans and the possibility of achieving high growth rates (the World Bank predicts growth of 4.5% for Serbia in 2025).

Comment by Zoran Panović

Diplomatic Twine

German politician Markus Söder promised to support Serbia on its EU journey. According to the German media, Söder is making “diplomatic twine” in his...

Branka Anđelković, Co-founder and Programme Director of the Public Policy Research Centre

An Even Bigger Grey Market?

In the case of workers of the platform employed in food production and passenger transport, the Open Balkan initiative might not contribute to the...

Čedanka Andrić, President of Trade Union Confederation NEZAVISNOST

Increased Competition Between Low-Paid Workers

Considering educational qualification and unemployment structures in Serbia, my opinion is that this measure could only increase the pressure on workers in Serbia to...

Jelena Jevtović, Serbian Association of Employers

Employers Will More Quickly Find Workers

The employing of citizens of these two countries in Serbia could ease the labour shortage problem, but fundamentally resolving it requires education system reform It...

Milšped Group Launches Direct Rail Line Between China and Serbia

Milšped Group, a leader in regional transportation and logistics, has announced a new partnership with Shijiazhuang International Land Port...

French Embassy and Institute in Serbia Launch ‘Rhythm of French Culture’ Event Series

The French Embassy and the French Institute in Serbia are organising an event called Rhythm of French Culture. This year,...

Albania to Utilize Drones in Anti-Cannabis Campaign

Albania is set to enhance its anti-cannabis efforts by deploying advanced drone technology, announced Interior Minister Taulant Bala. Starting...

Serbian Red Cross Launches Pioneering Migration Platform

Responding to a significant increase in migrant numbers, the Serbian Red Cross has unveiled a cutting-edge digital platform, earning...

Ghana to Open Embassy in Belgrade

Ghana is set to open an embassy in Belgrade, as announced by Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić following a...

Maserati’s Balkan Expansion: New Showroom Opens in Belgrade

Delta Auto Group has unveiled an exclusive Maserati showroom in Belgrade, setting new luxury benchmarks in line with the...

Peter Pellegrini Wins Slovak Presidential Election

Peter Pellegrini, the candidate from the ruling coalition, won the second round of the presidential elections in Slovakia, securing...

Strategic Energy Partnership Established Between Serbia and France

The Serbian Government adopted a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Serbia and French Electric Power Company (EDF),...

Serbia-France Innovation Forum Begins: Innovate for the Planet! Play Green!

At the Serbia-France Innovation Forum titled 'Innovate for the Planet, Play Green', which commenced at the Palace Serbia, French...

EU and EP Finalise €6 Billion Support for Western Balkans

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have finalised a deal to provide an additional six...

Maserati’s Balkan Expansion: New Showroom Opens in Belgrade

Delta Auto Group has unveiled an exclusive Maserati showroom in Belgrade, setting new luxury benchmarks in line with the...

Peter Pellegrini Wins Slovak Presidential Election

Peter Pellegrini, the candidate from the ruling coalition, won the second round of the presidential elections in Slovakia, securing...

Strategic Energy Partnership Established Between Serbia and France

The Serbian Government adopted a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Serbia and French Electric Power Company (EDF),...

Serbia-France Innovation Forum Begins: Innovate for the Planet! Play Green!

At the Serbia-France Innovation Forum titled 'Innovate for the Planet, Play Green', which commenced at the Palace Serbia, French...

EU and EP Finalise €6 Billion Support for Western Balkans

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have finalised a deal to provide an additional six...
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