Thursday, September 15, 2005

Balkan Business Reforms

News - Doing Business in 2006 – Reforms Mean More Jobs

It's a wonderful late summer in Zagreb in Croatia where I am at the moment. After a discussion in Brussels yesterday on the politics of Southeastern Europe in the context of the enlargement strategy of the European Union, I'm now here for discussions on the business and investment possibilities of the region.

And they are certainly there. All the countries have made rather remarkable progress in the last few years. That Croatia is on the verge of starting accession negotiations with the EU is a clear sign of this.

Earlier this week the World Bank published its annual survey of reforms in business conditions around the world.

During the last few years it has consistently been Central European countries that have been on the top of that list. Reforms driven bby European integration has been rated by the World Bank as the most significant in the global economy.

This year it is Serbia and Montenegro that suddenly emerges at the top of the list of global reformers when it comes to business conditions.

"Five of the top reformers were from Eastern Europe led by Serbia and Montenegro. So from setting up a business, through dealing better with construction licenses, improving property registration, hiring new workers, to paying taxes, contract enforcement and bankruptcy and access to credit – Serbia and Montenegro covered the waterfront.”

So things are distinctly moving in this part of Europe as well, although this does not mean that everything is perfect - there is still much to do.

But it shows how the agenda here has shifted from the conflicts over the past to reforms for the future.