Meeting of SEE economic experts: “Financial and Economic Crisis in the SEE countries – How to Find Ways Out”

The first meeting of the SEE TU Economists Network was held in Belgrade, November 10-12, 2009, attended by representatives from Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and Croatia, while representatives from Bulgaria, Romania and Kosovo were absent. The meeting was jointly organized by “Friedrich Ebert Stiftung” and ITUC/ PERC SEE Office.

The topic of the meeting was the global economic crisis, its impact on workers and citizens of SEE and ways to overcome it.

The purpose of the meeting was to point out to the key challenges coming out of the pressure of the current crisis on economies and societies of SEE countries, while exchanging standpoints and approaches of the trade unions, and to discuss strategic options to overcome the crisis.

Following the introduction by Roland Feicht from the Fridrich Ebert Foundation and Enisa Salimović from ITUC/PERC SEE Office, Professor Bruno Sergi from the Messina University gave a lecture on the impact of the crisis, trade union policies and role of the IMF.
His role was also to moderate the trade union economists in their joint work.

This lecture was followed by the national presentations of the Croatian and Serbian delegations, and then by other national presentations. The discussion that followed presentations of national delegations lead to a list of shared issues that require further elaboration and harmonization.

As the time allocated was insufficient for a discussion that would result in legislative drafts, and experts had not had the time before leaving their offices to elaborate and prepare for work, a small workgroup was formed to divide conclusions into several working groups with different focuses.

The common issue was the corruption that all countries have to deal with, as well as poverty and inefficient administration, so the conclusion is to reach national consensus that would help solving these important problems, as only then it would be possible to start taking individual measures.

Mid-term and long-term measures should be turned towards the governments, companies (domestic and international) and workers.
Analysis would be done in the following fields: revenues, expenditures, tax system, wage policy, incentives, investments and infrastructure, which would all be included in one coherent plan that would guarantee sustainable development and stability.

This would be a foundation to what follows – accession to the European Union, which would result in harmonization of laws and better accessibility of capital and knowledge that move economies.
The agreement was reached to set up a special web site of the network, with opinion exchange forum, and updated information, analysis, trends, prognosis and opinions of trade unions economists from the region.

It would also be used to build up opinions and priorities, reach consensus on professional level, elaborate topics important for the whole region and work towards forming anti-crisis set of proposals.
As the meeting was too short to discuss all segment of such a complex matter, the participants focused on primary objectives, central to argumentation and statements.

During the second day of work, workgroup consisted of Zlata Zec (UGS Nezavisnost), Sanja Paunović and Rajko Kosanović (SSM) from Serbia, Ljubica Dekovska and Mimoza Vujošević (SSM) from Macedonia, Ela Golemi (KSSH) from Albania, Domagoj Ferdebar (SSSH) and Goran Bakula (NHS) from Croatia, prepared a short presentation with focus on main statements and proposals, that was presented on the following day to TU leaders at the SEE Trade Union Forum.
Pp presentation is attached to this report.

The next meeting of SEE TU Economic Experts will be held in late February or early March 2010. FES Office Belgrade express interest to continue supporting this network.

The website should be in function by then, so the next meeting will be way more efficiently prepared, and there should be certain continuity of communication among trade union economists. Appointed to this task is Sven Karas (HUS) from Croatia.

Enisa Salimović,
ITUC/PERC SEE Offce Sarajevo

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