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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...

Plamena Halacheva, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia

Easier Access to the Western Balkans’ Single Market

The EU aims to involve Western Balkans partners with its Member States on equal terms, fostering a reform partnership that’s oriented towards the future and beneficial to all citizens

Let me start with the good news: on 1st February, the European Council agreed to the European Commission’s proposal of a Growth Plan for the Western Balkans. Its financial instrument – the Reform and Growth Facility – will better link the delivery of essential reforms to the disbursement of EU funds. This requires that every Western Balkan partner prepare – in close consultation with the European Commission – a Reform Agenda on the basis of existing European Union recommendations, including from the annual Enlargement Package and the national Economic Reform Programmes. This entails accelerating fundamental reforms, including on the fundamentals cluster of the accession process.

The six billion euros from the Growth Plan instrument for the 2024-2027 period, together with the existing funding through the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) III, will bring aid intensity close to what’s received by the EU Member States benefitting from EU cohesion funds. The potential of this Growth Plan is thus exceptional, as it could double the economy of the Western Balkans over the next 10 years. With its combination of reforms and investments, it will allow the Western Balkan countries to soon benefit from key areas of our single market, including the free movement of goods, services and workers, the single euro payments area, transport, energy and the digital single market.

Success in receiving additional EU funding is entirely dependent on meeting the identified indicators and targets, so the Western Balkan countries that meet these criteria will benefit the most

When it comes to the alignment of objectives, I believe that between a candidate country with a declared strategic goal of EU membership, on the one hand, and a Union that wants to accelerate the accession process, including the economic integration of the Western Balkans, there should be a natural convergence of objectives. It is important in this context that all projects support Serbia’s efforts to join the EU and respect EU policies and rules, such as those in the fields of public procurement, competition, labour law, environment, energy or transport. The aim of the Growth Plan is to offer the Western Balkans some of the advantages of membership in advance. This means that certain requirements of membership must also be met in advance, in particular the need to enforce EU legislation in relevant areas. Access to the Single Market has been the main driver of economic growth for all countries that joined the EU in the last two decades. Establishing a common regional market is an important stepping stone in this process.

Lastly, if the question is whether some countries could benefit more than others from this package, the answer is a resounding yes. Given that everything depends on meeting the identified indicators and targets, the countries that deliver will make the most of this additional EU funding. Unlike IPA, the Reform and Growth Facility is performance based. The same approach was implemented successfully with our own Member States in the scope of the post Covid- 19 “Reform and Recovery Facility”. The EU is looking to engage with our Western Balkan partners in the same terms as our Member States, in a future-oriented reform partnership that’s beneficial to our citizens. That’s why we are fully committed to assisting the Serbian authorities in delivering an ambitious Reform Agenda and supporting its implementation, in line with the country’s stated ambition of joining the European Union.

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...

Galenika Strengthens Market Position with New Strategic Partnerships

Galenika has significantly expanded its presence in the pharmaceutical sector by securing an exclusive distribution agreement with Cantabria Labs,...

HDZ Claims Victory in Croatian Elections but Lacks Majority

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the country's ruling party, emerged as the winner in Wednesday's parliamentary elections. Despite their...

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...

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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