Portorose, Slovenia, 25 November 2004
Statement by Ms. Brigita Schmögnerová,
Mr. Prime Minister, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the CEI Presidency for inviting UNECE to the 2004 Summit of the CEI celebrating its 15th anniversary. UNECE welcomes this opportunity to support CEI’s efforts to bring the countries of Central and Eastern Europe closer together through its political commitments and an ambitious CEI Plan of Action 2004-2006. The UNECE shares your goal to integrate the remaining countries with economies in transition into the European economy. I believe that the UNECE is in a good position to actively support these economies to adopt the economic and structural reforms needed to reduce the development gap between countries and provide the prerequisites for integration into the European economy.
Today, the new political map provides new challenges and opportunities in the UNECE region. EU enlargement, with 10 new members, and in the near future three others, will greatly change the framework of economic cooperation and integration in the region. This enlargement has brought new neighbours to the European Union but has also had impacts on more distanced countries in South-East Europe and the CIS. This development puts more emphasis on the need for an extended “Wider Europe” policy. The Wider Europe policy should be more inclusive and should prevent new divides between EU-members and non-EU members in different stages of transition and different formats of cooperation with the EU. This is the imminent objective of UNECE. The challenge is to make the enlargement a stepping-stone to a broader and deeper economic integration process in a wider Europe. To achieve this objective in a more efficient way, building regional and sub-regional cooperation, in which CEI and UNECE play an important role, is indispensable. Bilateral cooperation is not enough.
CEI is considered to be a good forum where non-EU members with ambitions to accede to the EU in the future could benefit from the experience of “new” EU Member States for which the perspective of EU accession has been a strong engine for reforms.
In this context I think it is important to recall the broad priority policy areas guiding development in the European Union. In his mid–term review of the Lisbon strategy for growth and development, Mr. Wim Kok, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and the High-Level Group that he has chaired re-confirms that in order to improve its competitiveness EU has no option but to; (1) radically improve its knowledge economy; (2) complete the free internal market; (3) establish a favourable climate for business; (4) create an inclusive labour market; and (5) develop an environmental economic strategy. However, the policy recommendations for EU members could be extended to all CEI members. UNECE plays an important role in all these areas. We are assisting governments to formulate policies and set up institutions including legal structure that create an environment conducive to the development of knowledge-based economy, to deepening economic integration, and to socially and environmentally friendly economic development. In this context, I would like to remind you of the main UN initiatives in 2005 linked directly or indirectly to the CEI’s objectives, such as, the 2005 Summit on MDGs, Copenhagen +10 on Social Development, the second part of the first round of the WSSD Plan and the second part of the World Summit on the Information Society.
Excellencies, I look forward to continued cooperation between UNECE and CEI in the areas of your interests including transport, cross-border cooperation, energy market development and other areas. Finally, I would like to offer our cooperation to the forthcoming presidency in 2005 in my home country, Slovakia.