"There is an old joke told about economists. It is often said that they are people who worry about whether things that are known to work in practice will also work in theory!"

European cohesion has been a central analytical concept in all of ESI's analysis of developments in South Eastern Europe. Developing the practical implications of EU cohesion policy for SEE and for EU policy-makers remains one of the central objectives of our work.

We believe that the successful processes of economic modernisation that have taken place in recent decades on the European Union's periphery – from Ireland and Portugal to Spain, Greece, and now Central Europe – are both a practical source of inspiration for the Western Balkans and hold concrete lessons for the European Union.

We believe that the EU needs to shift from passive assistance (in which donors are active and local institutions simply absorb aid) to active assistance, requiring detailed information provided by local institutions, local partnership, co-financing and long-term public investment planning.

We have also worked with governments in the region on moving towards EU National Development Planning as part of their process of Europeanising economic policy making. In return, we feel that the EU needs to make sufficient resources – and the specific instruments which have been used in both pre-accession and post-accession cohesion policies – available to the next wave of EU candidates in South Eastern Europe.

Mitrovica, July 15 2004

An Economic Vision for Kosovo – Towards a Development Plan

Conference organised by the UNMIK EU Pillar and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), jointly carried through with the European Stability Initiative (ESI) and sponsored by DFID. ESI-LLA prepared the conference report which was discussed: Towards a Kosovo Development Plan.

Skopje, May 8 2004

Small states catching up: The European experiences of Ireland & Estonia - Lessons for Macedonia and the EU

Conference in the Macedonian government building, financed by the Irish Government and the EU Delegation.

Please click here to view and download the presentations made by Gerald Knaus, ESI Chairman, John Bradley, research professor at the Dublin-based Economic and Social Research Institute and Natalie Lubenets from the Ministry of Finance of Estonia .

Oslo, May 2003

Wilton Park Conference – Focus on European Cohesion in SEE

John Bradley

John Bradley, research Professor at The Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, is one of Europe's leading economic experts on structural and cohesion policies. He has co-operated with ESI on a number of projects to flash out the implications for SEE (see below or Macedonia and Kosovo). He is a leading expert on building macroeconomic models to measure the impact of such policies and has worked for years with the European Commission and the governments of many Central European countries (including Estonia, Poland, the Land of Saxony-Anhalt).

Wilton Park Conference in Oslo, May 2003 – Focus on Cohesion:

"In Ireland, or indeed in many other small economies, including the Balkans, causality as often as not runs in the opposite direction. In other words, the Irish industrial development agency – the IDA – was constantly scanning the world for inward investment in high technology sectors. Quite often the domestic environment initially was not sufficiently attractive to persuade leading-edge firms to locate in Ireland. But information on firms" needs were fed back to the Irish government authorities by the IDA, and major policy changes could be executed rapidly.

A case of information feed-back was the transformation of the Irish university system, where massive resources were put into the education of electronic engineering and chemistry to create a skilled labour force for potential inward investment. So, the national wealth creating strategy in Ireland often needs to adapt to the requirements of firms in the global corporate environment, and not the other way around. Thus, the strategic challenges facing small open economies are very different from those facing large developed nations like the US, Japan, Germany, France, the UK."

John Bradley, Oslo

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