Today the European Commission and the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum launched the ‘WB6-EU Business Platform’, a forum that brings together representatives of the Western Balkans’ business community and the European Commission to discuss challenges and opportunities for the region’s private sector. Such dialogue will help the business community to better understand the European Union, its laws and policies and help them prepare for the integration in the Single Market.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said:
“We very much welcome this initiative, which is important to enhance our strategic cooperation and engagement with the business community of the Western Balkans. I count on such regular public private dialogue to maximise the impact of the Economic and Investment Plan for companies in the region.”
Chairman of the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum Marko Cadez said:
“We urge the Western Balkans Governments to speed up the reforms and the implementation of the Common Regional Market Action Plan, stressing the importance of further strengthening the dialogue between the business community of the region and the EU.
It is particularly important for the business community of the Western Balkans to easily do business with the European Union, while the Common Regional Market is being established and obstacles to regional economic cooperation are lifted. The WB6 Chamber Investment Forum, as a joint regional chamber of commerce representing more than 350,000 companies, strongly advocates for closer linkages with the EU, for instance, the extension of the EU Green Lanes to the Western Balkans will enable faster flow of goods through major border crossings with EU member states. This should be complementary with the principle of inclusive enlargement, which is a progressive opening of the European Single Market for companies and products from the Western Balkans. This early integration is expected to be accessible in sectors aligned to European rules and standards and governed by sustainable institutions.”
The representatives of the business community (members of the WB6 Chamber Investment Forum Business Council, an advisory body to the Managing Board of the WB6 CIF, composed of the 16 leading companies operating in the Western Balkans) raised several important issues related to the untapped opportunities for businesses in the region and called the EU to:
– Facilitate transport in order to ensure a fast flow of goods, eliminating excessive waiting times at the border crossing points between the Western Balkans and the EU, bringing the region closer to better managed borders and a ‘one-stop-go’ approach at border crossings;
– Support companies in implementing the Western Balkan Green Agenda and support their efforts towards greening their operations, for instance by introducing energy-efficiency improvements and extended use of hydrogen and biomass;
– Enhance support for the transfer of knowledge and know-how from the EU to the region. For instance, by creating more opportunities for partnerships, supporting the innovation and development efforts of local companies and contributing to stop the brain drain from the region;
The Western Balkans business community underlines the importance of including the region into the implementation of the EU industrial strategy, as well as, the EU SME strategy to deepen integration with EU value chains.