Satisfaction of people, businesses with situation in Balkans improving – RCC

Satisfaction of people, businesses with situation in Balkans improving – RCC Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)/All Rights Reserved

TIRANA (Albania), July 6 (SeeNews) – The satisfaction of people and businesses with the overall situation in the Balkans region is steadily improving, according to the 2018 edition of the Balkan Barometer report commissioned by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).

The report surveyed 6000 citizens and 1200 companies in Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia. Its first edition was published in 2015.

“Public sentiment index has risen by 7%, from 35 % in 2015 to 42% in 2018,” RCC secretary general Goran Svilanovic said in a press release on Friday, following the presentation of the survey in Brussels attended also by the director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission’s directorate-general for enlargement, Genoveva Ruiz Calavera.

Svilanovic also said businesses in the region positively assessed both the present situation and prospects, with estimations of both the current situation and the forecast for the future overwhelmingly positive - on a scale from 1 to 100 they rated it 62, up from 47 in 2015.  

“This is an encouraging trend that instils optimism for the coming years,” Svilanovic noted.

Although unemployment is still seen as the most important problem facing the region, brain drain/emigration is increasingly perceived as a major challenge by the region’s citizens, with 12% of the respondents saying so, which is 5% more than in 2015.

“However, we hope to see changes to these numbers to the better, already in the next year, as the report on implementation of the Multi-Annual Action Plan for Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) in the Western Balkans' six economies notes significant improvements in all four areas: trade, investments, mobility and digital integration, leading towards generating new jobs and more economic stability in the region,” Svilanovic explained.

According to the survey, businesses in the region are slightly more optimistic than the population, with 40% of company managers reporting improvement in their business situation over the previous year. With regard to hiring plans, 33% of businesses expect to increase the number of employees and only 8% feel they would have to decrease it over the next year, while 55% expect no change. As much as 45% of business leaders see their economy as a good place to invest.

When it comes to the opinion on the EU accession prospects of the region's economies, only 12% of respondents in the 2018 survey expect their economy to join the EU as early as 2020, down from 27% in 2015.

Yet, there is a marked increase in the number of respondents who anticipate accession by 2030 - from 14% in 2017 to 20% in 2018. A total of 26% think accession would never happen, which is a slight progress compared to last year when 28% of surveyed people thought so.

The region slowly regains trust in the EU integration process and that reforms and changes associated with it, although difficult at first, are designed to the benefit of all the citizens, EC’s Genoveva Ruiz Calavera said.

The Balkan Barometer is one of the annual monitoring tools used to track progress in the implementation of RCC’s SEE 2020 Strategy when it comes to growth, employment and competitiveness in the region.

Following are the answers on economic expectations:

Public opinion survey

  Better Worse The same Don't know/Refuse
SEE 29% 22% 45% 5%
Kosovo 42% 11% 43% 4%
Albania 36% 24% 38% 2%
Macedonia  35% 14% 48% 3%
Montenegro 31% 19% 46% 4%
Serbia  27% 19% 47% 7%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 18% 34% 47% 1%

Business opinion survey

  Deteriorate Remain unchanged Improve Don't know/Refuse
SEE 15% 44% 36% 5%
Kosovo 10% 37% 49% 2%
Albania 12% 52% 33% 4%
Macedonia 12% 41% 44% 3%
Montenegro 11% 28% 59% 2%
Serbia 11% 48% 34% 7%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 29% 40% 28% 3%

Source: RCC

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