Meeting of the WB6-EU Business Platform in Skopje – The progress towards the EU Single Market for the Western Balkan’s businesses
On 30th March 2023 in Skopje, the WB6-EU Business Platform in Skopje brought together the members of the WB6 CIF Business Council, as representatives of the region’s private sector, the European Commission, and the regional stakeholders for the Meeting of the WB6-EU Business Platform, under the topic “One region-One economy – the progress towards the EU Single Market for the Western Balkan’s businesses”.
Lulzim Rafuna, Chairman of the WB6 CIF and Thomas Hagleitner, Head of Unit at European Commission DG NEAR in the opening remarks, stated that 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of the creation of EU’s single market, and the 3rd year of the implementation of the Common Regional Market Action Plan, aimed at paving the way to a deeper economic integration of the Western Balkans with the EU market, and WB businesses should make the most of the lessons learnt from the creation of the EU single market, which in the last decades has helped to make everyday life easier for people and businesses, fueling jobs and growth across the EU, and being one of the EU’s greatest achievements, and the creation of the Common Regional Market in the Western Balkans is the path for WB companies in easing their daily operations in the region, and greater economic integration.
The annual reports on the business’s insights to the progress of the implementation of the Common Regional Market Action Plan, prepared by the WB6 CIF, show that although some modest progress regarding the regional economic integration process has been made, most of the work lies ahead. The full implementation of the Common Regional Market remains an issue of utmost priority for the region’s business community, and despite the laggings in its implementation, the results of the conducted surveys in the past three years confirm that the issues stated as action points in this document still remain valid requests of the regional business community and businesses across the region expect to see visible shifts related to the issues selected as Key Priority Areas. In general, the WB6 business community is very supporting to any viable option that makes regional business cooperation more efficient and helps every market within the WB6 be stronger and more sustainable.
In the panel discussion, the members of the WB6 CIF Business Council focused on several topics, including the Quality Infrastructure in the WB6 and the need to continue the work on the harmonization of WB6 Laboratories accreditation with European rules and mutual recognition throughout the WB economies; the challenge of shortening waiting times at border crossing points, where infrastructure and staff, along with the border procedures, still remain the key obstacle in providing smooth movement of goods between the region and the EU, and intra the WB6 region; the further elimination of non-tariff barriers that still impede regional trade; the challenges, but also the perspectives for WB6 companies in incorporating ESG standards in their operations, and complying with the EU Green Deal and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans.
The objective of WB6 –EU Business Platform is to ensure a continued and structured dialogue between EU decision makers, the WB6 business community represented by the WB6 CIF Business Council and the regional stakeholders, and forum for exchange on the obstacles and opportunities for businesses with EU decision makers and regional stakeholders. Such a dialogue serves to search for administrative, regulatory and policy solutions, and support the business communities in the Western Balkans to understand better the European Union, its acquis, and help them to be prepared for the integration into the Single Market.