In a rapidly changing world marked by technological advancements, climate shifts, geopolitical transformations, and economic challenges, it is imperative for policymakers and the corporate sector to collaborate as constructive partners in empowering the citizens of North Macedonia. The equation is clear: either we improve living conditions and enhance the well-being of our employees, or we risk losing our talent elsewhere.

As the pioneering Western Balkan nation to attain official candidate status for European Union (EU) membership and initiate strategic dialogue with the United States, we are bolstered by international support on our path toward the European Single Market. Therefore, our shared objective should be to expedite convergence with the EU. The first step involves exploring the potential and opportunities arising from deeper regional economic integration among the Western Balkans Six and neighboring EU countries.

The pivotal role of the business community in advancing our country’s and the region’s European perspective cannot be overstated. Beyond the strategic imperative of EU accession, there exists a compelling economic rationale for Southeast European nations to strengthen regional cooperation and integration.

Values and economic progress are intertwined, and by embracing a bottom-up approach in fostering good governance, we can achieve greater transparency. Commercial interactions will also bring together former adversaries. However, this concept relies on the expectation that Western Balkan states take ownership of the efforts to integrate the region’s economy through robust public-private partnerships. Private sector entities are expected to actively shape this process, with local entrepreneurs and corporate leaders encouraged to collaborate more effectively with government officials to establish well-regulated economic systems.

Given that companies form the backbone of the economy, their role in assisting candidate countries in aligning with EU standards, transferring knowledge, and driving technological innovation is pivotal. By sharing their expertise, providing input, and offering recommendations, companies can significantly contribute to shaping policies and reforms that facilitate the accession process and foster a conducive business environment.

We identify two key priorities aimed at building the country’s preparedness and particularly the business sector’s capacities for engaging in the EU Single Market:

Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Business Environment
  • Rule of Law
  • Digitalization
  • Economic Integration
  • Green Transition
Human Capital Development to Enhance Productivity
  • Education and Training
  • Healthcare
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