EU-funded programme for the Western Balkans – preparation for phase II

Final event December 2021 ©Nils Thies
Final event December 2021

If everyone pulls together, even complex projects can run smoothly and successfully.

Launched in March 2019, the EU-funded project with the rather wordy title “Programme for Strengthening the Central Bank Capacities in the Western Balkans with a view to the integration to the European System of Central Banks” came to a successful conclusion in December 2021. The aim of the project was to further strengthen the institutional capacities of the central banks – and in some cases also the banking supervisory authorities – in the Western Balkans and to transfer international standards and the ESCB’s best practices into national practices. The project elicited a big response within the ESCB, with a total of 19 EU central banks contributing their expertise. The EU-funded project was coordinated under the direction of the Deutsche Bundesbank.

Such a complex undertaking can only succeed if everyone pulls together right from the start – and this was certainly the case here. Some unexpected developments cropped up along the way, notably the pandemic. Nonetheless, it was possible to transfer the project activities to an online format relatively quickly and successfully, although many participants missed meeting up in person. The spirit of constructive and intensive cooperation could be felt at the closing event, which was at least possible in hybrid format, and this impression is also reflected in a film made about the project.

Planning phase II

At the regular project management meetings and in the evaluations of the individual measures, it became clear early on that the project measures were gaining a very positive reception from all concerned and that there is a far greater demand for cooperation between the Western Balkans and the ESCB and for measures promoting regional cooperation in the Western Balkans. Consequently, plans soon emerged for a follow-up project, which will begin in September this year and run for three years, with a budget of €3 million. The new programme is designed to be more tailored to the needs of the individual central banks – and the banking supervisory authorities – and to further strengthen regional cooperation. Phase II of the EU-funded project will again involve 19 EU central banks and the ECB, with the Deutsche Bundesbank in the coordinating role.

Text: Peter Spicka 

Photo: Niels Thies