Establishing a region-wide private sector committed to doing business in an ethical manner is essential for reform processes in the Western Balkans to succeed. The region’s economic and political potential is hindered by widespread corruption and increasing authoritarian influence. CIPE works to combat these issues by supporting local private sector and civil society champions in fighting corruption, promoting economic inclusion, and fostering capital flows that can help the region prosper democratically.
CIPE’s Objectives in the Region
- Support local stakeholders in efforts to promote good governance norms such as anti-corruption compliance and corporate governance.
- To support local initiatives combatting corrosive capital and promoting a better enabling environment for constructive capital.
- To promote the development of inclusive economies across the region.
CIPE’s programs in the Western Balkans focus on supporting the local business community, media, and civil society to promote anti-corruption, business ethics, close governance gaps which enable corrosive capital, and foster constructive capital investment into the region.
Widespread corruption and poor government transparency have consistently undermined Albania’s political transition and its people’s faith in democratic government. These challenges also serve as the primary obstacles hindering further EU integration. Together with the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS), CIPE began developing the US-Albania Transparency Academy in 2020. CIPE’s unique approach to addressing the supply side of corruption and engagement with the private sector is a key element of the program. When established, the Academy will be a center of innovation around which Albanian society can coalesce to promote transparency and accountability in the Albanian public and private sectors.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), CIPE promotes objective information on economic policy, business ethics, corruption, and corrosive capital. CIPE supports its local partners, Zasto Ne and the Center for Policy and Governance (CPU), to provide objective information on responsible economic policies among key stakeholders and constituencies for economic reform. To this end, CIPE supports its partners to identify key economic challenges at the local level, identify top economic misconceptions, and produce new content on economic issues.
To promote business integrity in BiH, CIPE works with the Union of Employers Associations in Republika Srpska (UEARS). In November 2020, UEARS adopted a new code of ethics for employers. CIPE and the Union developed the code through a series of working group meetings. The code is a comprehensive document including best practices for engagement in public procurement, workplace protections, customer relations, and other anti-corruption measures. As part of its cross-regional initiative, CIPE also works with the Center for Civic Initiatives (CCI) to analyze the impacts of corrosive capital and close governance gaps. CCI is currently researching Huawei telecommunication infrastructure investment in BiH.
Access to an active and thriving entrepreneurial sector is essential for democratic participation in North Macedonia. Recently, CIPE and its local civil society partner, Startup Macedonia, have developed a custom mentorship database, entrepreneur mentoring program, and a corresponding networking platform for both participating mentors and mentees. With CIPE assistance, local partners and entrepreneurs learn how to provide effective mentoring services on building, sustaining, and growing companies under a newly created committee’s oversight.
CIPE partner, the Institute for Democracy „Societas Civilis“ – Skopje (IDSCS), researches the impacts of corrosive capital inflows from Russia and China. Recently, IDSCS published a policy paper analyzing the economic impact of Chinese highway infrastructure investment in North Macedonia.
In Montenegro, CIPE works with local partners to close governance gaps that facilitate corrosive capital inflows. CIPE continues to support its local partner, the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), to examine high-risk foreign capital inflows from authoritarian states and implement local initiatives to advocate for specific policy changes. With CDT, CIPE brings together private sector stakeholders to jointly advocate for governance reforms. Recently, CDT published a new report highlighting how China’s corrosive capital investments in Montenegro’s infrastructure projects will burden the country with significant debt for years to come.
In Serbia, CIPE supports local partners in improving access to objective information on economic policy, countering corrosive capital inflows, and creating an enabling environment for constructive capital. In 2017, CIPE supported its partner, LIBEK, in launching a media outlet on economic policymaking, Talas.rs, which has become a crucial platform for independent discourse in Serbia. CIPE also works with its partner, the Center for Contemporary Politics (CSP), to research corrosive capital investment in Serbia and develop policy measures that can close governance gaps. Recently CSP published a policy paper analyzing Chinese investment into the Serbian mining industry.
- In collaboration with the OSCE, CIPE supported the development of the “Glasometar” application. In this simple online tool, voters in BiH can compare their economic preferences with a specific party and/or candidate commitments. Ahead of the 2020 BiH local elections, more than 20,000 people used the tool across 12 local self-government units and the Brcko District.
- From 2013 to 2018, CIPE supported ACER, a leading Albanian economic think tank, to mobilize the local business community by engaging a coalition of 11 reform-minded business organizations (the National Business Forum) to develop a common platform for advocating economic reform through its public-private participation. CIPE helped the group carry out joint advocacy campaigns addressing the most pressing in the Albanian economy. Reform priorities championed by the National Business Forum were highlighted by EU progress reports and resulted in tax reforms to incentivize tourism.
John Kay, Associate Program Officer