Economic growth matters, but is just one facet of development. Policy makers are required to reconcile economic, social and environmental objectives to ensure that their country’s development path is sustainable and that the lives of its citizens improve. At the same time, the achievement of economic, social and environmental objectives needs strategies for reform that factor in the complementarities and trade-offs across policies.

The OECD Multidimensional Reviews (MDR) provide governments in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo1, North Macedonia and Serbia)2 with concrete policy advice for their development strategies. They identify the main constraints to more equitable and sustainable growth, and propose priorities for policy intervention. The MDR of the Western Balkans supports the region in identifying key constraints to development and strategic policy priorities for the next decade.

The MDR of the Western Balkans is composed of two parts: Assessing Opportunities and Constraints, and From Analysis to Implementation. The approach aims at the co-creation of reforms that respond to region’s specific challenges and opportunities, and comes with guidance on implementation. This report concludes the first part of the project: Assessing Opportunities and Constraints for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia. The process conjugates expert policy analysis with participatory approaches including “Visioning” workshops that involved actors from the private and public sectors, civil society, and academia. Analytical work is based on statistics about individual well-being as well as macro- and micro-economic performance at the central, local, sectoral, household and firm levels. Both domestic and international sources are used.

Benchmarking and comparison of results and experiences with other countries is a key element of the OECD method. For each MDR, a set of comparator countries is designed to include regional peers, countries from other regions with similar structural characteristics and OECD members. Depending on data availability, the Western Balkan economies are compared with three groups of benchmark countries: 1) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Greece, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey); 2) non-OECD EU countries (Croatia and Romania); and 3) countries in neither the OECD nor the European Union (Kazakhstan, Morocco, Philippines and Uruguay). The report also includes regional averages for the Western Balkans and OECD and EU members. The selection of benchmark economies is based on historical similarities, including their paths towards EU integration, and on economic structures, geographical proximity and mutual partnerships. The selection of non-OECD economies is based on similar economic and social challenges (such as high migration rates), shared history as transition economies and similar development patterns.

The assessment in this report builds on the five pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals: People, Prosperity, Partnerships, Planet and Peace. For each of these dimensions, strengths and constraints, as well as trends that could create opportunities or hamper future progress are identified. The objectives of this report are twofold: first, to identify strategic priorities of relevance for the whole region as the focus for peer learning; and second, to serve as inputs for the development strategies and plans currently under development in the region, as well as for the region’s many co-operation partners as they devise their support.

← 1. This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

← 2. In addition to the economies covered by this project, the Western Balkan region also includes Montenegro. Depending on the data availability, Montenegro is included in the benchmarking analysis throughout the report and contained in calculated averages for the region.

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