Vienna, Austria, January 22, 2021 The Policy Recommendations of the Regional Stability in South East Europe Study Group (RSSEE SG) are the result of the 2nd Virtual Meeting of the PfP-Consortium, held on 25 November 2020. The Meeting focused on the short and long-term impact to the economy of the Western Balkan countries.
The exponential growth of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to place a heavy burden on the health systems and budgets of the WB countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina/BiH, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia). Despite major fiscal problems, the countries of the region are expected to start 2021 with a smaller economic contraction of, on average, about minus 5% compared with most EU countries. In the likely event that the pandemic can be gradually pushed back in 2021 with the help of vaccines, regional economic growth of 3-5% is forecast for 2021.
In any case, the WB states will depend on external support for their economic recovery. The European Union’s (EU) COVID-19 aid package of € 3.3 billion could play a key role in this context. However, the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies criticizes the high percentage of loans in this aid package.