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19 June 2013
More than 30 members of parliament, committee staff and regional researchers from across the Western Balkans came together a conference in June to discuss findings from a draft study on competition policy in the region.
Participants at the conference, supported by the UK's Westminster Foundation for Democracy, included delegates from the parliaments of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo*. The conference's key aims were to discuss the findings of a draft study on 'Competition Policy in the Western Balkans' and on ways in which the Network of Parliamentary Committees on Economy and Finance in the Western Balkans can address key regional economic issues.
The study's findings were presented by the report's author Ms Slavica Penev, senior research fellow from the Belgrade Institute of Economic Science; Mr Fikret Cauševic, Professor at the Faculty of Economics, Sarajevo; Mr Ahmet Mancellari, Professor at the Faculty of Economics, Tirana; and Mr Nikola Milovic from the Faculty of Economics, Podgorica.
Hosted by the Committee on Economy and Finance from the Parliament of Montenegro and organised by WFD, MPs and staff discussed how parliaments in the region, taking into account the study’s findings, can provide further support in scrutinising relevant economic legislation that can improve the competition environment in countries in the Western Balkans. Participants were also addressed by representatives of: the Parliament of Montenegro, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia and the Parliament of Kosovo*.
captions: (left) Vladanka Avirovic, Chairperson of the Committee on Economy, Assembly of Republic Macedonia; and Branislav Borenovic (right), Chairperson of the Committee on European Integration and Regional Cooperation, Finance and Budget, of Republika Srspka, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Speaking at the launch of the draft study on competition policy, Mr Borenovic emphasised that,“competition policy areas received the most criticism from Brussels.” He also outlined how,”in order to promote competition, Western Balkan countries need to have greater involvement of Competition Authorities. The greatest problem is the lack of rules and, therefore, implementation.”
Alexsandar Damjanovic (above), Chairperson of the Committee on Economy, Finance and Budget, Parliament of Montenegro, commented that, “due to small market size, countries within the region, have a tendency towards monopolies and with a lack of administrative capacity, it is difficult to achieve a competitive market."
On the second day of the conference, MPs and staff from the Network of Committees of Economy and Finance of the Western Balkan Countries discussed and agreed to establish a governance structure for the Network, and developed an action plan to address regional issues though its work. This regionally- led network, formed in 2009, seeks to strengthen regional parliamentary cooperation on economic regulatory reform and to idenitfy and implement regional solutions to overcoming the economic crisis, and speed up EU integration. WFD is supporting the Network through a three-year programme, from 2012-15, to strengthen the role of parliaments in the Western Balkans in promoting competitiveness and economic growth.