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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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Science, technology and innovation in South East Europe

This chapter on science, technology and innovation (STI) assesses the policy settings, strategies, processes and institutions in six South East European economies. After a brief overview of innovation trends and performance in South East Europe, the chapter then focuses on five essential sub-dimensions. The first sub-dimension, governance of STI policies, assesses whether governments take an overarching strategic view and co-ordinate policies across all relevant ministries. The second, public research system, looks at how they are funded and managed in order to foster research excellence. The third, innovation in firms, measures the degree to which business innovation is promoted and supported financially and institutionally. The fourth, public-private knowledge transfers and linkages, examines policies to facilitate science-industry collaboration and technology transfer to overcome barriers between academia and business. The final sub-dimension, human resources for innovation, focuses on specific measures aimed at creating appropriate incentives and mobility for researchers to foster research excellence and co-operation with industry. The chapter includes suggestions for enhancing the policies in each of these sub-dimensions in order to spread the diffusion of innovation and new technology more widely, which in turn would foster the competitiveness of these economies.

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