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Competitiveness in South East Europe 2021

A Policy Outlook

image of Competitiveness in South East Europe 2021

The future sustainable economic development and well-being of citizens in South East Europe depend on greater economic competitiveness. Reinforcing the region’s economic potential in a post-COVID-19 context requires a holistic, inclusive and growth‑oriented approach to policy making. Against the backdrop of enhanced European Union (EU) accession prospects and a drive towards deeper regional integration, the governments of the six Western Balkan (WB6) economies have demonstrated a renewed commitment to enacting policy reforms.

The third edition of Competitiveness in South East Europe: A Policy Outlook comprehensively assesses policy reforms in the WB6 economies across 16 policy dimensions crucial to their competitiveness. It leverages a highly participatory assessment process, which brought together the views of OECD experts, WB6 policy makers and local non-governmental stakeholders to create a balanced and realistic depiction of their performance. The report seeks to provide WB6 policy makers with a multi-dimensional benchmarking tool, enabling them to compare performance against regional peers as well as OECD good practices, and to design future policies based on rich evidence and actionable policy recommendations.

Economy-specific profiles complement the regional assessment for the first time in this edition of Competitiveness in South East Europe: A Policy Outlook, and provide each WB6 economy with an in-depth analysis of their competitive potential as well as policy recommendations tailored to their specific challenges to inform their structural economic reforms and sustainable development agenda.

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Digital society (Dimension 10)

The six Western Balkan economies (WB6) have long recognised the significance of the digital economy and society for strengthening ties and co-operation within the region and increasing convergence with the European Union. This chapter reviews their progress through five sub-dimensions: 1) access, which explores government policies and initiatives to enable network infrastructure investment and broadband services take-up and to increase data accessibility; 2) use, which asks whether governments have planned and implemented programmes to develop a user-centric digital government and to help businesses achieve a digital transformation; 3) skills, which examines whether governments are implementing policies to nurture a digitally skilled workforce and to support the growing ICT sector to underpin the development of the digital economy; 4) society, which asks whether governments have planned and implemented programmes to reduce the digital divide and create an inclusive society through digital technologies; and 5) trust, which examines the economies’ frameworks and how they are being implemented to protect data and privacy, build trust in e-commerce and ensure cybersecurity through effective digital risk management systems. Each sub-dimension section makes specific recommendations for increasing the capacity and efficiency of systems for developing the digital society in the Western Balkans.

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