• English

Workshop on "The Economic Dimension of Security in Europe: Facing New Challenges in a Changing Europe"

Geneva, 8 March 2004
Opening address by Mrs. Brigita Schmögnerová,
Executive Secretary

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Ambassador Kubis,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is my great pleasure to have this opportunity to address the workshop on "The Economic Dimension of Security in Europe: Facing New Challenges in a Changing Europe", particularly because it has been organized in cooperation with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

I would like to thank Mr. Ivanov, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, currently holding the presidency in the OSCE, for having accepted our invitation to participate in the workshop and to chair the first session.

Unfortunately Mr. Chris Patten, European Union Commissioner for External Relations, is not able to participate personally in today's meeting due to his very busy schedule, but he has provided us with his address, which will be kindly presented by the distinguished Ambassador Carlo Trojan, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Geneva. Mr. Walter Schwimmer, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, has also apologized for not being with us today due to unexpected important commitments, but Mr. Schwimmer has designated Mr. Guy de Vel, Director-General of Legal Affairs of the Council of Europe, to deliver the presentation on his behalf.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Enlargement and "Beyond enlargement" Project

During the last decade, the UNECE region has experienced many far-reaching changes. This year brings the most significant one: EU enlargement to include ten new member countries. In less than two months the map of Europe will be redrawn and the EU external borders will be greatly expanded towards the East.

There are many question marks about the challenges, opportunities and implications of this historical enlargement for the entire region, and particularly for the countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Western Balkans.

In UNECE we have sought to address major issues regarding the new shape of relations between the enlarged EU and its future neighbouring countries, and other non-acceding transition countries within the region. We have initiated a discussion on "Beyond enlargement: economic cooperation and integration in a wider Europe" through a series of workshops. This series of sectoral workshops, which is being supported by the EU, is designed to help (a) limit the prospect of new divisions arising in the region through economic cooperation and integration between the enlarged EU and non-acceding transition countries, and (b) define the role of the UNECE in the wider Europe in order to address the needs of non-acceding transition countries. We have so far organized workshops in the sectors of energy, trade, business and FDI, environment, transport and regulatory convergence.

In December 2003, UNECE issued the publication "Beyond Enlargement: Trade, Business and Investment in a Wider Europe", which is also available today at the desk in front of the meeting room, and we are currently preparing another publication on regulatory convergence in non-acceding transition countries.

The objective of the project is - as noted - to promote a better understanding of the need for coordinated efforts to prevent new divisions in the UNECE region after EU enlargement. All main stakeholders - the EU, governments of non-acceding States, the business sector and NGOs, and relevant international organizations - have a role to play.

The current workshop on "The Economic Dimension of Security in Europe: Facing New Challenges in a Changing Europe" is primarily aimed at looking beyond enlargement from the perspective of the economic dimension of security. Secondly, it should look at the scope of the threats in the economic dimension of security, and thirdly, give an impetus for future cooperation among the key players OSCE-UNECE-Council of Europe and the role of the EU in this cooperation.

Why does the economic dimension of security matter?

In the past, conflict prevention was seen as the actions and policies undertaken to avoid the threat or use of armed force, like diplomacy or the physical presence of a deterrent force, etc. Today the approach to conflict prevention is different. There is a shared vision in Europe to address the security challenges more effectively and to put more emphasis on the economic and environmental dimensions of insecurity.

What are the main elements of the economic dimension of security in the region? What are the key roots which threaten security? And what are the catalysts of stability in the region?

EU integration has been an anchor for reforms and stability in the UNECE region. During the past fifteen years, the EU has developed a series of bilateral arrangements with almost all UNECE member States, including the Europe Agreements, Stabilization and Association Agreements and Partnership and Cooperation Agreements. Since last year, the EU has been developing a new cooperation framework for its new neighbouring countries.

The prospect of EU membership or privileged relationships with the EU has been a powerful catalyst of reforms, stability and secure relations. After the last decade's political and economic changes, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which embarked on political and economic transformation, concluded Europe Agreements with the EU. The prospect of EU membership subject to fulfilling all conditions, including building stable democratic institutions and implementing the acquis communautaire, had a positive impact on their economic reforms, on the inflow of foreign direct investment and the growth of their trade. These countries have become leaders in the East European region. In contrast, countries with some limited or no perspective of European integration have often lagged behind the candidate countries in democratic and economic transformation.

Countries that have fallen behind the advanced economies of the region and are characterized by weak public governance and rising poverty are more sensitive to threats to stability, and often face conflict and insecurity. Specific risks exist in economies in transition, where poverty and other difficulties may have caused new security threats. These countries are frequently the new centres of transborder crime, illegal trafficking, corruption and money laundering, organized crime having a negative impact on their economies, on budgetary revenues and development of business.

The enlargement will in many ways bring positive developments and enhance security in the enlarged EU. However, a major challenge will be to achieve an overall stability in the region and to avoid new divisions. The EU, together with some east European countries such as the Russian Federation and Ukraine, have already introduced action plans to fight organized crime. Similar action plans could perhaps be further developed with other neighbouring countries. In those countries, the greatest emphasis should be given to conflict prevention, which can be achieved through good governance and greater integration into the global economy.

Strengthening of the long-standing partnership of the UNECE and the OSCE

The UNECE's cooperation with the OSCE in particular is long-standing. Historically, the UNECE was identified as a fundamental partner of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe since its establishment in 1975, especially in dealing with economic aspects. The UNECE played an important role in adopting the Bonn Document of 1990, establishing a set of key commitments in the economic and environmental areas, and was also a major force in promoting the need to review it taking into account the emergence of new threats to security at the present time. The UNECE substantially contributed to the preparation of the new OSCE Strategy Document for the Economic and Environmental Dimension, which was adopted by the OSCE Ministerial Council in December 2003 in Maastricht, inviting UNECE to continue to cooperate with the OSCE. The EU has always been supportive to promoting the close partnership and recognition of complementarities of both organizations.

The UNECE and the OSCE share the same membership and both provide to their members multilateral, neutral platforms for consensus building. On the other hand, there are some dissimilarities or complementarities: the UNECE, because of the nature of its work, and unlike the OSCE, has a network of experts from both the public and private sectors, from which OSCE could benefit in its conflict prevention work. Additionally, the UNECE's conventions, norms, standards and guidelines in a wide range of areas, provide a unique framework of benchmarks that are of great use to the OSCE in its security and conflict prevention work. In the new OSCE Strategy Document, UNECE is identified as the principal partner organization in the implementation of the strategies set forth in this document.

I am pleased to inform you that the UNECE member States at the recently held Annual Session of the UNECE endorsed and supported further strengthening of the partnership and cooperation between the UNECE and OSCE in implementing the New Strategy Document.

An Inter-secretariat Task Force has been established to monitor and measure commitments set out in the New Strategy Document and to work out the modalities of the new collaboration between both organizations aimed at implementing those commitments. The task force recently held its first meeting.

What can UNECE offer?

In post-enlargement Europe a unique role can be played by UNECE in the economic dimension of security. What can UNECE offer?

  • UNECE has a long and well-recognised expertise in developing norms, standards, conventions and other binding and non-binding legislation in the areas of trade, transport, energy, environment and agriculture; its instruments in fact provide the basis for many EU policies and legislation and make a significant contribution to the success of the EU's Customs Union and Single Market. Recently the EU adopted three legislative proposals towards full application of the 1998 Aarhus Convention on environmental democracy developed in the UNECE. Vice versa, many UNECE initiatives are in fact led by EU Member States and EU policies.

  • It provides valuable analytical work, particularly analysis of the transition to a market economy of the countries of Southern and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia;

  • It actively contributes to the work of a number of international organizations, such as WTO, WCO, OSCE, UNCTAD;

  • UNECE is already making efforts in the security area through the work of its Principal Subsidiary Bodies and their Working Parties to improve security of trade, transport, and energy and in the environment. For example, in the area of trade, UNECE is considering possible approaches to the development of a longer-term strategy for trade security and trade facilitation. It was suggested that a useful basis for the future work could be the existing UN/CEFACT Supply Chain Model, and possibly also the UNECE International Trade Transaction Model. Work on updating both these models is currently underway.



Furthermore, based on the mandate given to the UNECE secretariat at the last UNECE Annual Session, UNECE is ready to contribute to the preparation of the review document for discussion at the OSCE Economic Forums and provide necessary assistance in developing early warning mechanisms and assessment of implementation of commitments.

What are the challenges we have to face?

There are three major challenges to be addressed in implementing the new strategies in order to achieve a win-win situation for all stakeholders:

  1. Identification and scoping of the economic threats to security (What are the real economic security threats? What are the solutions? What are the stabilizers and catalysts of the economic dimension of security?);

  2. Development of the "new architecture" based on the relations between three major pillars - OSCE, UNECE and Council of Europe, and with the vital support and cooperation of the EU (What will be the role of the new architecture? How to involve other players, such as other UN bodies, ILO, IMF or World Bank?);

  3. Establishment of a new dialogue with those countries, which are weakened by the transition process and lacking democracy and a rules based system, to be addressed by "new architecture" (How to support the transition process, particularly in the CIS countries and the Western Balkans, to ensure their integration into a global economy, while avoiding new divisions in the UNECE region).


We are on the eve of enlarging the EU eastward. I strongly believe that the progress the EU has already made, as a uniquely successful experiment in the regional integration of 10 countries gradually increasing to EU25 in less than two months, will be a relevant example to other regions in two aspects: (1) how to promote reforms in order to make integration possible as in the case of candidate countries; (2) how to deal with challenges of a globalization.

I see the role of UNECE becoming even more relevant in the coming years, especially in relation to the twin trends of globalisation and regional integration, offering as it does an open and accessible platform to all its 55 member States for economic integration within its region, and helping less-advantaged countries to manage the impact of globalisation. UNECE's evolving role in the region as a bridge between all its members, to ensure open communication and cooperation between all countries in the region, is undisputable.

In particular, UNECE will continue to help non-acceding transition countries with little or no immediate prospect of EU membership to integrate into European and global markets, through its unique expertise and work in trade facilitation and international standards and norms in agriculture, transport, environment and others.

Many countries in Southern and Eastern Europe have to face the challenge of strengthening governance and democracy. A consistent part of it is the fight against corruption, which undermines economic efficiency and increases social disparities. The role of the State in encouraging and regulating the business community is still in the process of evolution in some of those countries and UNECE can assist in several sectors by offering focused programmes.

UNECE, as the traditional partner of the OSCE, is ready to further enhance this partnership and to contribute to the economic and environmental dimension of security, which will firmly anchor on UNECE's agenda. I believe that the field presence of the OSCE appropriately supplemented with the deep expertise of the UNECE will be an essential element of the new cooperation with the OSCE. This calls for an early formalisation of the relations between both organizations to build a solid basis of further work.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The purpose of the Workshop on "The Economic Dimension of Security in Europe: Facing New Challenges in a Changing Europe" is to bring together major players and experts in the economic dimension of security in order to discuss how integration and cooperation in the region will affect the future shape and direction of the economic dimension of security in the next decade. It aims at answering the range of various questions outlined in the Annotated Agenda of the Workshop in front of you.

I believe that today's Workshop and its highly relevant topic will launch a fruitful discussion and meet its aims.

I wish you successful deliberations.