The OECD works with South East Europe economies on digitalisation, particularly in the areas of digital society, digital government and SME digitalisation.
What is the issue?
Digital technologies have significant potential to disrupt everyday life and drive economic growth - both in the South East Europe region and globally. From improving the delivery of public services to boosting the productivity of the private sector, the digital transformation has many potential benefits that governments should capitalise on. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that digital technologies can be key pillars of resilience and has underlined their usefulness in times of crisis.
However, digital transformation is a process that requires co-ordinated and consistent effort by actors from the public, private and civil society sectors. The economies in South East Europe often lag behind their peers in the EU and OECD member states in capitalising on the key benefits of digitalisation, including ensuring the delivery of user-oriented digital public services, addressing the digital skills gap, or supporting the adoption of digital technologies by businesses.
How is the OECD South East Europe Regional Programme supporting the region’s digital transformation?
For more than 20 years, the OECD has been assisting the Western Balkan economies (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia), in embracing the digital transition for governments, businesses and the broader society under the Competitiveness Outlook and SME Policy Index assessments and the related policy dialogue and peer exchanges. The digital transition is at the forefront of these assessments and is captured through several chapters, both thematically and horizontally.
Building on our extensive experience in shaping digitalisation public policies for Western Balkan economies, the OECD South East Europe Regional Programme actively engages in transformative digital projects to foster innovation and sustainability. A crucial aspect of our commitment involves supporting the swift progression of SMEs towards digital and green transition. To achieve this, in 2024, the OECD launched the project on Accelerating SMEs’ digital and green transition in Western Balkans, financed by Croatia. The project will address pressing issues identified in our previous work and catalyse positive change in the SME landscape, driving a sustainable and digitally empowered future.
The OECD South East Europe Regional Programme is also engaged in supporting the implementation of the EU4DigitalSME, a multi-donor action jointly co-financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, and implemented as part of the Strengthening Innovation and Digitalisation of SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina project. The project aims to help create a policy environment that is supportive of the technological and digital transformation of businesses, as well as their internationalisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also focuses on strengthening the ecosystem of business support services and providing policy support for their monitoring and evaluation.
Sources (in order):
1-Eurostat, householdols-level of Internet acccess, 2-Eurostat, E-Government activities of individuals via website, 3-Eurostat, Individuals' level of digital skills, 4-Eurostat, Households-reasons for not having internet access at home 5-Eurostat, Cloud computing services by size class of enterprise
1-Data for key figures 1, 3 and 5 is for 2021 (figure 1 data for Kosovo id from 2020), data for key figure 2 is for 2020 and data for key figure 4 is for 2019, 2-Data not available for Kosovo, 3-Data not available for Kosovo and Montenegro.
Main areas of our work:
Based on the OECD’s Going Digital Integrated Policy Framework, this work assesses digital society policies in the Western Balkan economies through five broad sub-dimensions: Access, Use, Jobs, Society and Trust.
Based on the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA), this works analyses the availability and quality of digital government services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Western Balkans and Türkiye and measures the extent to which they can interact with public institutions through the use of digital technologies.
Building on the findings of the SME Policy Index, this work, jointly conducted with GIZ, aims to implement the EU4DigitalSME’s ambition to create an enabling environment for SMEs to successfully undertake digitalisation and innovation transformations in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Regional Peer Dialogue Events:
28 June 2024, Dubrovnik, Croatia – Kick-starting the project on Accelerating SMEs’ digital and green transition in Western Balkans at Dubrovnik Forum
19 October 2023, Belgrade, Serbia – High-level event on Digital Transition in Serbia with the presence of Mr Mathias Cormann, Secretary-General of the OECD, H.E. Emanuele Giaufret, Ambassador of the European Union to Serbia and Ms Ana Brnabić, the Prime Minister of Serbia
3 October 2023, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Workshop on Customisation of Business Support Services
3 October 2023, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Workshop on Monitoring & Evaluation of Business Support Services
13 June 2023, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina (with hybrid option) - Policy Dialogue on Supporting the Green Transition of SMEs
8 June 2023, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina (with hybrid option) - Policy Dialogue on Designing, Coordinating, and Monitoring Policies for Innovation
29 March 2023, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (with hybrid option) - Strengthening Innovation and Digitalisation of SMEs in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Key findings from enterprise and service providers surveys
Competitiveness in South East Europe : A Policy Outlook 2021: Chapter on Digital Society
SME Policy Index : Western Balkans and Turkey 2022: Chapter on Operational Environment for SMEs (including digital government services)
Relevant OECD work on digital transformation:
Going Digital: Shaping Policies, Improving Lives
Measuring the Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for the Future
Going Digital Integrated Policy Framework
OECD Going Digital Toolkit
OECD Digital Economy Papers
OECD Council Recommendation on Digital Government Strategies (2014)
Open, Useful and Re-usable data (OURdata) Index
OECD AI Policy Observatory
Contacts: Marijana PETROVIC, Digital Team Lead
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.