The Berlin Process Leaders Meeting, 5 July 2021


Remarks by Mathias Cormann,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 5 July 2021

Dear Chancellor Merkel, Leaders, Colleagues,

It is an honour to join you at the Western Balkan Summit. Under your great leadership, Chancellor Merkel, the Berlin Process has become a driving force in strengthening the economic integration of the region.

It is against this background that I am pleased to announce the launch of our flagship report, The South East Europe Competitiveness Outlook 2021.

Let me highlight some of its main findings.

Open markets and more business-friendly regulatory environments are helping to attract increased foreign direct investment in sectors like manufacturing and energy.

Regulatory restrictions have been lowered, making digital, air transport and construction services more liberalised than across many OECD countries.

The Western Balkans’ involvement in international tax initiatives has increased, including through the OECD’s BEPS Project.

However, more needs to be done. Average per captia GDP is till only 1/3 of the EUs and unemployment levels remain too high – particularly among young people.

To optimise the strength and the quality of the current recovery in particular, there is room for improvement in environmental policy, digital, science, technology and innovation policy.

The emissions intensity of its industries must be reduced.

More support needs to be provided to citizens and business to harness the benefits of the digital transformation.

Significant skills mismatches also need to be addressed.

Public research remains systematically underfunded and should be increased;

And most Western Balkan economies would benefit from improving their systems for Transport project identification, prioritisation, selection and management.

Chancellor Merkel, Leaders,

I hope that the 2021 Competitiveness Outlook will inspire and guide you through ambitious structural reforms.

The OECD stands ready to support you in this process.

Thank you.


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