DUBRAVKA NEGRE, Head of EIB Regional Representation for the W. Balkans: GREAT PROGRESS IN REFORMS

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In the past two years, Diplomacy&Commerce magazine has given to its readers abundance of news from politics, business and culture, has reported on the opinions of relevant stakeholders both from Serbia and abroad, covering all segments of life, and opened up topics that were not written or talked about enough. With its latest issue, Diplomacy&Commerce is celebrating its second anniversary in Serbia. We are very proud of the fact that, in two years and 24 issues, we have managed to interview the leaders of the Serbian political, business and diplomatic community, as well as the renowned regional and the global public figures. In these past 24 issues, we have also published special supplements dedicated to overall relations between Serbia and European and world countries.

We have asked Serbian officials – Serbian PM, government ministers, ambassadors and representatives of business associations in Serbia – to give us their opinions about the most important changes that Serbia should make in order to become an EU member, and about the investment climate in the West Balkan region.

1. What do you think are essentially the most important changes that Serbia should make in order to be ready for EU membership by 2025?

2. Do Serbia and the Western Balkans have enough capacity to attract large multi-nation companies to their markets?

  1. The significant progress with structural reforms has strengthened Serbia’s economic growth potential and improved country’s fiscal stability. However, persisting in the implementation of the structural reforms is of a paramount importance. The continuation in building up Serbia’s infrastructure, such as transport, energy, municipal infrastructure, in particular water and wastewater, health, education and development of country’s judiciary, are equally important, and all these sectors are supported by EIB investments. Progressing the chapter 25 in the EU negotiation process on the rule of law and completing it will certainly raise confidence amongst investors. All this reforms should help to improve Serbia’s external credit rating, which will on the other side help attracting more private capital necessary to support country’s socio-economic development. EIB has many products to offer to support the private sector and we are already doing so, be it the development of public-private partnerships, or helping the local financial sector in taking more risks when lending to SMEs. As an EU Bank, we work under the mandate of the European Commission, with the aim to foster Serbia’s integration into EU.

  2. Markets of the region are small and fragmented, so it is not easy for them to attract large multinational companies. More political and economic stability will certainly help that process as well as more regional economic integration, which has been launched successfully under the Berlin process. As the largest multinational borrower and lender in the World, we are happy to look into the opportunities of supporting investments of multinational companies interested in the region

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