Delegation from Belgrade Chamber of Commerce
visits members of European Parliament and European Commission
Brussels, July 20-23, 2009

On the invitation of the SME Union, European Parliament and EPP, the representatives of the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce, lead by President M.Sc. Milan Jankovic, visited Brussels on July 20-23rd, 2009. During the stay, Mr. Jankovic met with several members of the European Parliament, European Commission, as well as with the representatives of governments and parliaments of the EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Poland, and Spain).

In addition to exchange of views on current economic topics, the course of mutual economy related activities and actions on the road of the EU integration of Serbia was also discussed with the European Parliament members.

Mr. Paul Rübig, European Parliament member and ITRE coordinator (Industry, Research and Energy), who plays an important role in EU harmonisation, expressed his desire to see Serbia become member state as soon as possible. Mr. Rübig remarked that business community must respect priority measures and regulations, and that only strong and competitive Serbian companies that implement EU harmonized standards, can support the integration process.


Conversation with Mr. Rübig
 

Conversation with Ms. Wortmann-Kool

Ms. Corien Wortmann-Kool, member of European Parliament and of the Committee of Economic and Monetary Affairs, expressed her strong support to our country and congratulated Serbia on economic progress it made..

Mr. Peter Jungen, newly elected President of SME Union and member of the German SME Union Presidency, Board of Directors of Deutche Banke and of EU Business Angels organisation, during the conversation with Mr. Jankovic, remarked that the global financial crisis would seriously reflect on financial and banking sectors since the real sector is over-indebted. Europe should be well-prepared for final waves of the crises, since financing through loans is much more important in Europe than in the USA, where the financing is primarily based on capital market.

 

Mr. Karlheinz Kopf, co-president of the SME Union and leader of the parliamentary group of the Austrian People’s party ÖVP, highlighted, in the course of cordial conversation with the Chamber's delegation, the importance of the cooperation between Austrian and Serbian businesses and interest in further investments in Serbia, Austria's most important partner from the Balkans.

The French delegation was made of Mr. Patrick Moulin, secretary general of French SME Union, Mr. Alain Lamossoure, member of European Parliament and president of Budget Committee, Mr. Jean Paul Gauzes, member of the European Parliament, and Mr. Jean-Michel Ferrand, member of the European Parliament and president of French SME Union. The main topic of the meeting was the improvement of economic cooperation and linking of business operators from France and Serbia. In that sense, Belgrade Chamber of Commerce will visit France in September in order to finalize details of further common activities. French parliamentarians assured the collocutors they would support the assession of Serbia in the European Parliament.

Bearing in mind the volume of Italian investments in Serbia, Mr. Cesare Cocchi, president of the Italian SME Union, suggested closer linking with Confartigianato, Confederation of Italian SMEs, in order to establish more intensive business cooperation with Italy.

Former Greek Minister of Finance and member of the Greek Parliament, Mr. Christos Folias, offered Serbia the support on its way to EU, emphasizing the long-lasting excellent relations of our two countries.

Important bilateral talks were also arranged with the representatives of the parliaments and governments of Bulgaria, Slovenia, Romania, and Hungary. Participants agreed to organize several regional conferences on current topics related to the SME sector. Mr. Mitar Avramov from Bulgarian SME Union invited Mr. Jankovic to visit Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affaires and to meet with the Minister. Ms Valia Cilova, Secretary General of Entrepreneurs GERB and Mr. Jankovic decided to organize, by the end of the year, B2B meetings of Serbian and Bulgarian companies and conference of women entrepreneurs, with the aim of strengthening and promoting female entrepreneurship.

The conversation on various projects in the construction industry was led with Mr. Marian Milut, president of the Romanian Organization of Employers.

The support of the hosts from Brussels undoubtedly encourage and stimulate further efforts of the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce. Our general impression is that the door of the European Union is wide open to Serbia.

Meetings with NORMAPME and UEAPME


Talks with Mr. Andrea Benassi
 

Conversation with Mr. Loucas Gourtsoyannis

As a President of the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce and Honorary President of SASME (Serbian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises), M.Sc Milan Jankovic had fruitful talks and exchange of views on mutual cooperation with Secretary General of UEAPME (European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), Mr. Andrea Benassi and Director of NORMAPME, Mr. Loucas Gourtsoyannis.

SASME is a member of UEAPME, umbrella association of SMEs and craft shops in the EU that advocates their interests. UEAPME membership includes 83 national, cross-sectorial and other associations that provide support to SMEs (close to 12 million SMEs, employing around 85 million workers). UEAPME is a recognized European social partner and acts on behalf of crafts and SMEs in the European social dialogue and in discussions with the EU institutions.

The main goals of this organisation are as follows:

  • Monitoring the EU policy and legislative process and keeping its members informed on all matters of European Union policy of relevance to crafts, trades and SMEs
  • Representing and promoting the interests, needs and opinions of its member organisations
  • Supporting the idea of European integration and contributing to European co-operation

As a recognised representative of SME sector in Europe, UEAPME acts as an ’agenda setter’ in the area of European SME policy. It has direct role in all EU policies that affect SMEs. This is made possible by establishment of direct links and contact with the EU administration and strengthened by its status as a social partner.

UEAPME is continually making efforts to ensure that interests of SMEs are considered in all legal matters that could affect their operations. Some of the key legislative areas in which UEAPME plays an active role are economic and fiscal policy, employment policy, social policy, enterprise policy, research and development, innovations, internal market.

UEAPME analyses the role of SME sector in EU economy and challenges they face. On the basis of this analysis, UEAPME identifies the ways in which SMEs can adapt to those challenges. The sectoral policy of UEAPME is defined by the experts, national SME associations is specific sectors, and representatives of the European SME associations which are members of UAPME. There are around 20 sectoral associations that are either full or associate members of UEAPME.

One of them is NORMAPME, part of UEAPME oriented towards protection of SME interests in the process of certification and standardisation. Implementation of EU standards is crucial for survival and operation of businesses. Education about use of new technologies and assistance in implementation of harmonised standards will be the focus of services offered by the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce to its member companies.


Meeting with ETRURIA consortium from Italy

M.Sc. Milan Jankovic also met with Mr. Frederico Ioni, representative of the Italian construction consortium. Mr. Ioni offered the possibility to construction companies from Serbia to join the consortium of Spanish, Portugese and Italian companies engaged in road construction project in Africa. Participation of Energoprojekt from Belgrade was arranged at the meeting and the cooperation is to start from early September.

Belgrade Chamber of Commerce will take active part in the work of the above organisations, in order to facilitate adaptation of Serbian companies to standardisation requirements in the process of EU integration and to represent interest of Serbian businesses on the international level.