Sasa Drezgić, Deputy Minister of Finance of Croatia and President of the Regional BFC SEE Network:

The BFC SEE Programme Has Established A Channel Of Trust And Cooperation In The Region

The final word on any investment comes from the local community. If the investment process is not synchronised and well-structured, there is little chance of projects being realised

In the context of long-term cooperation on local public sector development projects and increasing investment at the national level, one of the major issues preventing project implementation is the lack of a good local business environment. The local community has the final word on any investment. If the investment process is not synchronised and well structured, there is little chance of projects being realised.

Business Friendly Certification South East Europe (BFC SEE) is a unique programme for improving the quality of services and information local governments provide to businesses and investors. The programme is implemented by a regional network of 20 institutions and organizations from 5 countries including ministries, chambers of commerce, an association of municipalities, development agencies, CSOs and universities.

The BFC SEE programme offers a unique system that solves all the key problems in the realisation of investment projects in an integrated way. Furthermore, by adopting the principles of BFC, powerful indirect effects of the transformation of local government into carrier of economic diplomacy are created even at the national level. Investors want security and a guarantee that individual locations provide maximum support for their business ideas. BFC provides support not only to potential foreign investors, but also eases business administration significantly for domestic entrepreneurs.

26 certified municipalities in the SEE region cover a total of 15,440 km2 of territory, providing a high quality service and business-friendly environment to approximately 2 million people and 105,000 businesses

The acceptance of a project is certainly determined by its quality and the support of GIZ, but also the great effort and kindness of the NALED team in terms of providing professional and technical support. The decision to join the project was also certainly made easier because NALED had already achieved significant successes in Serbia. There has been a high level of cooperation with NALED since its inception, and a channel of mutual trust and the exchange of information leading to the further improvement of the project in the region have been established.

Within the BFC SEE programme we have seen significant success at the regional level in a relatively short time. To date, 26 local authorities have been certified, and more than 60 are in the process. It is certainly a step forwards in the development of the project in the direction of acceptance and incorporation into national institutional systems and regulations to ensure the involvement of all local governments, and an approach towards the stated terms of the level of a favourable business environment. Both the institutional framework and knowledge created in the context of regional cooperation must receive adequate support from the governments of Southeast Europe.