A round table on the Global Competition Challenges facing Single market and its implications for the Western Balkan was held on Friday, June 3, 2022, at the Faculty of Economics, as part of the Erasmus + project Jean Monnet Center of Excellence (CEP). The event was attended by high representatives of the diplomatic corps and the highest officials of the Government of Montenegro, as well as university professors and students.
The Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Prof. Dr. Mijat Jocović, in his introductory address to the audience, pointed out: "Strong economic disturbances fueled by one of the most dangerous pandemics in human history and the war in Ukraine, have made the European space and the Western Balkans, face very strong challenges without a possible reliable prediction of their ultimate consequences at this time."
The round table was attended by a number of high-ranking officials who, during two thematic sessions, presented their views on the current topic.
The moderator of the first session entitled Possibility of economic criteria as an integral part of the" fundamental cluster" to speed up negotiations on the region's accession to the European Union, was Prof. Dr. Nikola Milović from the Faculty of Economics, who in his introductory speech said: "Economic criteria set through the new methodology of EU enlargement for the Western Balkans, in the first place, can lead to faster integration of the entire region into the EU. Competitiveness of the economy is put in the focus of economic policy makers, with the aim of increasing the strength of economic potential."
Professor of the University of Ljubljana and member of the CEP team, prof. Dr. Mojmir Mrak, during his presentation, pointed out, among other things: "In the period of almost 30 years since the European Council in Copenhagen, the topic of economic criteria has made a great transformation as a subject of negotiations on EU accession. By formally integrating economic criteria into the "cluster base" within the EU accession negotiation process, the Copenhagen economic criteria will be among the highest political priorities that will govern the entire process of upcoming EU accession negotiations. According to this approach to negotiations on "core clusters", the candidate country's progress on the Copenhagen economic criteria will be among the key areas determining the overall pace of negotiations with all the negative and positive drivers of conditionality."
Dr. Jovana Marović, Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Policy, European Integration and Regional Cooperation and Minister of European Affairs, pointed out in the video that, in accordance with the new methodology, the most serious tasks facing Montenegro are within the first cluster: "Montenegro has made the most progress in the negotiation process and, as you know, it has opened all the negotiation chapters and closed three, for many of which it has received final benchmarks. What is ahead is to fulfill specific tasks in the field of rule of law and get the final benchmarks by the end of the year. That is the goal of this Government, but along with the rule of law, the economy must be strengthened and the economic criteria must be met. What Montenegro needs to do is strengthen all control mechanisms, improve transparency, strengthen cooperation with civil society, and reduce public debt."
In his presentation, H.E. Christian Thimonier, Ambassador of France to Montenegro, pointed out that "Including economic criteria as fundamental is a strong signal from the new methodology to improve EU integration process and to prepare more concretely countries to be part of the common market. In addition, economic development should be a main concern to accelerate national development to ensure a better stability for all Balkans countries and provide better conditions to all citizens. Very useful and desirable regional cooperation in this field should be very carefully coordinated and not create ambiguities or obstacles to future enlargment .This is espiecially important for Montenegro as "frontrunner". Clear priority in internal organization should be given to the european path."
During the second session entitled Challenges and Opportunities for the Western Balkans that emerged from the last crisis, the introductory speech was given by prof. Dr. Danijela Jacimovic, who pointed out: "The pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine may serve as stepping stones for the region to finally adopt a new development model that balances economic, social, political, geopolitical, and environmental interests. The new model of development should be targeted at specific industries, that could create a new and mutually beneficial connection between the EU and the Western Balkan nations, particularly in the area of energy, but also in other areas such as food supplies. The Balkans have the potential to lessen the EU's reliance on third-country suppliers and create a reliable supply chain, reducing the negative consequences of any future crises. These would raise European business interest in the region, which is now low, and attract foreign direct investments. Investment inflows to the WBs cannot be emphasized, but however the major FDI flows from the EU are still missing."
H.E. Judy Rising Reinke, Ambassador of the United States of America to Montenegro, told the audience: "The United States’ vision for the Western Balkans is a region at peace with itself and its neighbors, and one that is stable, prosperous, and well-integrated into Europe and the Euro-Atlantic framework. Robust and fully inclusive regional initiatives which are consistent with EU rules and shared values – such as the Open Balkan Initiative and Common Regional Market – can help to bring the entire Western Balkan region closer to the EU single market and eventual membership. Their focus on free movement of people, capital, goods, and services is fundamental to the region’s efforts to unlock sustainable economic growth, counter malign influence, and staunch the outflow of its citizens seeking better opportunities outside the region. For these initiatives to seize the current moment and be truly transformative, they must be transparent, unified, and demonstrate concrete success."
Goran Đurović, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism in the Government of Montenegro, expressed his belief that a good opportunity for economic recovery, but also tourism as a very important branch of our economy, is the conclusion of the International Agreement between the European Union and Montenegro on Montenegro's participation in the Union program - "Single Market Program 2021-2027" - EU Single Market Program: "We as a country are fully prepared to join a new strategic and integrated approach that can enable SMEs to take full advantage of a functioning single market. This is especially important if we keep in mind that most companies in the tourism and hospitality sector are small and medium enterprises."
Aleksandar Damjanović, MSc, Minister of Finance in the Government of Montenegro, pointed out that Montenegro is an open economy with little potential for economies of scale, but with almost unlimited opportunities to develop quality products and services that bear the stamp of mountain-sea strengths and weights. Speaking about the topic of the round table, Minister Damjanović pointed out, among other things: "The current political context of our country, which is obliged to its citizens to return the road to Europe to the tracks of modern speeds; This Government is committed to this goal, and with the full support of the EC team and teams of other international investors and creditors, I am convinced that this time we will strategically lead Montenegro towards a sustainable, diversified economy and a stable and prosperous community based on trust and responsibility.”
Jakov Milatović, MSc, former Minister of Economic Development in the Government of Montenegro, reminded that since the restoration of Montenegro's independence, there have been three crises that have resulted in significant growth of national public debt: "Since 2009, Montenegro's public debt has grown faster than economic growth, which shows that the activities of the state were insufficiently productive. In addition, Montenegro is among the European economies with the highest poverty rates. Every fourth citizen is on the brink of poverty. All this requires reforms in the structure of the economy. We need to diversify the economy, invest in innovation and invest more in agriculture.”
Participating in the second session of the round table, Stevan Đurić, a student of the Faculty of Economics, expressed his views: “After more than two years of going through a huge crisis at all levels, it seems that in 2022, thanks to the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccine, health crisis is coming to an end. However, the real battle has only just begun. The focus will be on unemployment, especially on youth employment and relevant accompanying social policies in the Western Balkans. Improvement must go to three areas: education, digitalisation and government support. ”
After the time for the discussion in which many students of the Faculty of Economics participated, the honor to give the final word went to one of the best students of the Faculty of Economics, Dženana Đurković, who pointed out that EU is known as a welfare state, gives some special dignity to the EU relative to the rest of the world by the creation of a common market and deeper integration, and added: "Montenegro and the countries of the region expect that from the European Union, we also expect that at the Faculty of Economics, aware of challenges and obstacles, the idea of success is too noble to allow it to fail. We live in uncertain times from the horizon of the future, we notice that the hints are unstable and foggy, in such a world we need institutions on a wider level than national ones, we need radical reforms, and our choice is Europe!”
Dissemination of the event:
Radio Television Montenegro - National Television Evening News (09:52), broadcast three times at: 19:30, 22:00 and 23:00h.
Gradska Television -(03:47), broadcast two times at 19:00 and 22:30h.
Pink M Television - Minut Dva News
Newspaper Pobjeda - Article
Newspaper Dan - Article
Radio Television Montenegro Portal - Article
MINA news - Article
Glas Amerike (Voice of America) - Article
Cafe del Montenegro Portal (politics) - Article
Cafe del Montenegro Portal (economics) - Article
Antena M Portal - Article
Portal Analitika - Article
Portal Pobjeda - Article
Gradski Portal - Article
Portal Dan - Article
Portal Aktuelno - Article
Portal Press - Article
Portal BudimInfo - Article
Portal Standard - Article
Portal Dnevno.me (economics) - Article
Portal Dnevno.me (politics) - Article
Portal Adria - Article
Portal Borba - Article