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Competitiveness in South East Europe

A Policy Outlook 2018

image of Competitiveness in South East Europe

Future economic development and the well-being of citizens in South East Europe (SEE) increasingly depend on greater economic competitiveness. Realising the region’s economic potential requires a holistic, growth-oriented policy approach. Against the backdrop of enhanced European Union (EU) accession prospects and a drive towards deeper regional co-operation, SEE governments have demonstrated a renewed commitment to enacting policy reforms.

 

The second edition of Competitiveness in South East Europe: A Policy Outlook seeks to help SEE policy makers assess progress made towards their growth goals and benchmark them against regional peers and OECD good practices. The 17 policy dimensions addressed in this report encompass a wide range of areas key to economic competitiveness including the business environment, skills and capacity, the region's economic structure and its governance. The report leveraged a highly participatory assessment process which brought together more than 1 500 individual stakeholders including OECD experts, SEE policy makers, private sector representatives and regional policy networks and organisations to create a balanced view of performance.

Since the latest edition of the report, there have been areas of noteworthy progress. The six assessed SEE economies have adopted strategies to improve the overall standard of education, acted to remove technical barriers to trade and taken steps to establish better financing mechanisms for small and medium-sized enterprises. Further efforts are underway to expand broadband services and close the digital divide, tackle inefficiencies in the energy and agriculture sectors, and address demographic challenges posed by long-term unemployment. Notwithstanding these important gains, there remain considerable challenges for these economies as they continue their journey towards structural reform.

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Digital society in South East Europe

This chapter on the digital society assesses the policy settings, strategies, processes and institutions in six South East European economies. It begins with a brief overview of trends and performance in developing the inclusive use of information and communications technology (ICT), including the importance of digital ICT imports and exports of goods and services, Internet access, broadband penetration and the use of e-commerce. It then focuses on four key sub-dimensions. The first sub-dimension, ICT access and use, examines the legislative and institutional framework to foster ICT access. The second, digital empowerment, gauges the establishment of policy and institutional frameworks to maximise the benefits of digitalisation for the economy and society. The third, e-business and e-commerce, assesses the promotion of ICT adoption by small and medium-sized enterprises, e-commerce legislation, and the safeguarding of e-commerce consumers. Finally, the digital security and privacy sub-dimension examines the legal framework for and implementation of personal data protection, digital risk management and e-authentication. The chapter includes suggestions for enhancing policies in each of these sub-dimensions in order to improve access to and use of digital technology and participation in Europe’s envisaged Digital Single Market, which in turn would foster the competitiveness of these economies.

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