In February 2014, the President of the EBRD chaired a high-level regional conference for the Western Balkans at the Bank’s Headquarters in London. This was the first time all regional Prime Ministers had gathered in that format.
This EBRD event launched a new process and format of regional cooperation: “Western Balkans Six at the level of Prime Ministers” (WB6). It was agreed that the forum would not be a one-off event and that the EBRD would organise follow-up conferences every two years.
The EBRD remains committed to three overarching objectives of its first Western Balkans Summit: promoting the region as an investment destination; contributing to regional stability through strengthening regional cooperation; and furthering the connectivity agenda.
The forthcoming 2018 Summit will continue this work, particularly in promoting projects in transport and energy as key regional bottlenecks. But there is more to regional integration than physical infrastructure alone. The plan is to also discuss ways to further the “soft connectivity” agenda. A key element of this is creating single investment space which includes harmonisation of legislation, removal of non-tariff barriers, improving both the depth and horizontal links of capital markets, strengthening the business environment in the region, and facilitating foreign investment.
The invitation to participate in the 2018 Summit has been accepted by all Western Balkans Prime Ministers. They will bring along not only their respective relevant ministers, but also business leaders. Together they should be able to present a realistic picture of the business opportunities for potential foreign investors. The latter – international companies interested in the region – will be the bulk of the audience.
The forum will be organised as a one-day event by invitation only, and will take place at the EBRD’s Headquarters in London on Monday 26 February 2018.
The opening session of the Summit will include addresses by the President of the EBRD; the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, who, as part of the country’s EU Presidency, will outline its agenda for the Western Balkans; and a representative of Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom.
This will be followed by a session during which each of the gathered Prime Ministers will address the audience and interact with each other; the launch, in the presence of the Prime Ministers, of the online Regional Investment Platform – a one stop shop for foreign investors interested in the region; a short press conference; and three separate panels devoted to energy and transport connectivity respectively, as well as the new “soft connectivity agenda” panel.
By invitation only.
Agenda for EBRD Western Balkans
8.15 - 9.00 Registration and refreshments
Arrival of Prime Ministers
9.00 - 9.25 Welcome address (Auditorium)
Suma Chakrabarti, President, EBRD
Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria (EU Presidency)
Representative of Her Majesty’s Government, United Kingdom
9.30 - 11.00 Western Balkans Prime Ministers’ session* (Auditorium)
* Held under the Gymnich formula.
11.00 Coffee break for participants (refreshments will be available until 12.00)
11.05 - 11.15 Launch of the Regional Investment Platform (Auditorium)
11.15 - 11.25 Possible signings (by invitation only)
11.30 - 12.00 Prime Ministers' Press Conference (Auditorium)
12.00 - 13.30 Session 1 (Auditorium): Regional Transport Connectivity
12.00 - 13.30 Session 2 (Boardroom): Sustainable Regional Energy Model
13.30 - 14.30 Networking lunch for all participants (Auditorium ante area)
14.30 -16.00 Session 3 (Auditorium): Soft Connectivity Agenda for the Western Balkans
16.00 - 17.00 Networking drinks reception (Auditorium ante area)
Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans - discussion of political and economic aspects of regional cooperation (by Oleg Levitin and Peter Sanfey)
Diagnostic report - outlines the constraints on the path to a sustainable market economy (by Peter Sanfey and Jakov Milatovic)
Country facts and case studies - data and project examples from EBRD activities in the Western Balkans