The focus of the Open Balkans initiative is currently on the labour market, further integration of traffic communication, but also on the establishment of a special line of communication for the citizens of the three countries in the coming months, said Serbian Internal and External Trade Minister, Tomislav Momirović, at the second Open Balkan forum.
“The plan is to introduce in July a unique identification number for all people who participate in the labour market of our three countries and that people who are citizens of Albania and North Macedonia can freely get a job in Serbia. On the other hand, Serbian citizens will be able to find employment in North Macedonia and Albania much easier,” said Momirović.
Speaking about a special line of communication, Momirović cited the example of the countries of the European Union.
“Just like when you go to the European Union you have a special line for EU citizens, we want to have a special line for the citizens of Macedonia, Albania and Serbia, the Open Balkans line,” Momirović said during the panel discussion “Building trust: Serbia, the Open Balkans and the EU”.
According to Momirović, the Open Balkans initiative led to the abolition of a large number of taxes and obstacles for a short period of time, as well as smaller costs for companies and the streamlining of border procedures at the borders of Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania.
“This is something that means a lot to our companies, especially companies that operate in the food industry and agriculture,” said Momirović, stating that all three countries have a problem with the workforce, both skilled and medium-skilled.
The Minister for European Integration, Tanja Miščević, said that the analyses carried out by the Transport Community of Southeast Europe showed that 300,000 trucks pass through our borders annually.
“If a comprehensive system without internal border checkpoints is established in the three Open Balkans states, that would lead to an increase of 1% in each of the countries’ GDP. If such a system is established for the entire Western Balkans, that would result in 3.5 percent GDP growth,” she said.
The executive director of the Council of Foreign Investors (FIC), Aleksandar Ljubić, said that foreign companies welcome talks and better connectivity between regional countries.
Ljubić also said that there are many different initiatives within the European Union, where different member countries are united in various interest groups.
“I don’t see any problem with the Western Balkans. Of course, I think that the Berlin process is the backbone of everything we should strive for, including joining the European Union itself,” said Ljubić.
According to him, the Serbian economy is very closely linked to the economy of the European Union.
“I cannot imagine what the Serbian economy would look like if it was not deeply integrated into the European Union,” he said.
Ljubić added that more than 80 percent of foreign companies operating in Serbia come from the European Union.
“Serbia is a small market. Foreign companies came here with the task to set up production and start producing for the needs of the European Union. Therefore, freedom of trade, communication and movement is essential for those companies and their production,” said Ljubić.
(Nova Ekonomija, 07.06.2023)
This post is also available in: Italiano