SEE Prime Ministers Discuss Economic Developments in the Region

Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe Newsletter

Brussels/Salzburg – Hosted by the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and co-chaired by the Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe Erhard Busek, the Prime Ministers of South Eastern Europe (SEE) met in Salzburg, Austria yesterday and today (2-3 August). In their discussions, the Prime Ministers of Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia focused on the issues of promoting greater economic developments in the region.

Special Co-ordinator Busek used this opportunity to appeal to the countries of SEE to improve conditions for investment and to move towards the business-friendly single Free Trade Agreement.

The single Free Trade Agreement would upgrade a complex network of twenty-nine bilateral Free Trade Agreements, which have now entered into force in South Eastern Europe and have already had a demonstrable impact on intra-regional trade which has increased substantially. At a trade and investment ministerial meeting in Sofia in June, the governments of SEE agreed to move towards a modern and inclusive single Free Trade Agreement. As a consequence, the Salzburg meeting provided an opportunity for key issues in this area to be raised at the highest political level. It was stressed that the experience with the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) should be used as a reference for this undertaking.

In the area of investment generation and employment, the Prime Ministers discussed measures to stimulate an increase in the necessary inflows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). €8 billion of FDI have reached SEE in 2004 - a substantial improvement to the previous years. However, 70 per cent of this amount went to Romania and Bulgaria only. In their discussions, the Prime Ministers focused on how SEE as a whole and Western Balkans in particular could increase inflows of FDI now that privatisation was nearly complete.

Furthermore, the process of upgrading employment policies in SEE in line with EU and international standards was also brought to the forefront of the agenda. The debate focused on how best to balance employee rights with job creation stimulation.

This week’s Salzburg meeting was the fourth meeting of such a nature and was of particular importance due to the upcoming Austrian EU Presidency in the first half of 2006.

The Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe supports countries in SEE in developing concise political, economic and security agendas based on the notion of regional co-operation. Recent examples of a strong push of the region towards regional co-operation in the economic field include its commitment to upgrade the existing network of 29 bilateral Free Trade Agreements to a single Free Trade Agreement and the initialling of the Energy Treaty that would create a common energy market within SEE and its future inclusion into the EU energy market.

 

For further information, please contact Stability Pact's Spokesperson
Mr Dragan Barbutovski at the SP Secretariat in Brussels
(Tel: +32 2 401 87 25 or press@stabilitypact.org).

inserted by Florian GRUBER on 2005-08-05 11:19:59

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