Regional Cooperation Council
The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) is a regional cooperative framework for countries in Southeast Europe, with the goal of "promoting mutual cooperation and European and Euro-Atlantic integration of South East Europe in order to inspire development in the region to the benefit of its people".
The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) was officially launched at the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) in Sofia, on 27 February 2008, as the successor of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. It provides operational capacities to and works under the political guidance of SEECP and functions as a focal point for cooperation in South East Europe through a regionally owned and led framework. It also acts as a forum for the continued involvement of the international community engaged in the region.
The Statute of the RCC forms the basis for its operations. According to it, the RCC Board provides operational guidance and supervision to the organization. It comprises those RCC participants contributing to the budget of the RCC Secretariat as well as the EU, represented by a representative of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and a representative of the European Commission.
In line with its Statute and guided by the principles of all-inclusiveness, the main tasks of the RCC are to represent the region, assist the SEECP, monitor regional activities, exert leadership in regional cooperation, provide a regional perspective in donor assistance – notably the EU's Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) programme – and support increased involvement of civil society in regional activities.
The organisation currently operates under its Strategy and Work Programme 2017–19, the main document guiding its work. This strategy was adopted at the RCC Annual Meeting, in Pravets, Bulgaria on 31 May 2016.
The current Strategy was preceded by the Strategy and Work Programme 2014-2016, endorsed by the SEECP Summit held in Ohrid, North Macedonia in May 2013.
The Strategy 2017–19 has been designed to respond to the needs of the region and add value to cooperation in South East Europe in the areas of joint interest. The Strategy and Work Programme outlines the organisation’s vision and activities for the next three years.
The core element of the RCC’s work is South East Europe (SEE) 2020 strategy that has been adopted at the Ministerial Conference of the South East Europe Investment Committee (SEEIC), co-chaired by the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the RCC, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 21 November 2013, and Multi-annual Action Plan for the Regional Economic Area in the Western Balkans, agreed by the Western Balkan leaders at the Summit in Trieste in July 2017.
The goal of the SEE 2020 strategy (also titled: “Jobs and Prosperity in a European Perspective”) is to improve living conditions in the region and bring competitiveness and development back in focus, closely following the vision of the EU strategy Europe 2020. It stresses out the shared vision of the SEE economies to open up to 1 million new jobs by 2020, by enabling employment growth from 39% to 44%, increase of total regional trade turnover by more than double from 94 to 210 billion euro, the rise of the region’s GDP per capita from current 36% to 44% of the EU average, and the addition of 300,000 highly qualified people to the workforce.
The strategy was developed by the RCC Secretariat in consultations with governments from SEE, European Commission, and relevant regional and international institutions, following a mandate by the region’s ministers of economy.
The RCC participants comprise 46 countries, organizations and international financial institutions. The organization has a Secretariat based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, headed by Secretary General Majlinda Bregu, who took office on 1 January 2019, succeeding on that position Goran Svilanović, who held the post in two consecutive 3-year mandates (2013-18). In this post, Svilanović succeeded Hido Bičević, the first RCC Secretary General, who held the post for five years in two consecutive mandates (2008–12). Apart from the Sarajevo headquarters, the Secretariat has a Liaison Office in Brussels with European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. The RCC meeting format consists of the Annual Meeting and meetings of the RCC Board, held three times a year.
"Helping prosperity and growth through regional action in South East Europe, while supporting European and Euro-Atlantic integration, is what the Regional Cooperation Council is all about. We see our region as a place of dialogue, freedom and mobility, rich in cultural heritage, where each person feels safe and protected by the rule of law. Our work reflects the readiness and the ability of the people of South East Europe to take responsibility for their future, and to create conditions for an overall progress in a climate of tolerance and cooperation."
- Majlinda Bregu, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council
Participants of the RCC:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina¤
- Council of Europe
- Council of Europe Development Bank
- Czech Republic¤
- European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
- European Investment Bank
- European Union (EU), represented by a representative of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and a representative of the European Commission¤
- Federal Republic of Germany¤
- International Organization for Migration
- North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
- South East European Co-operative Initiative
- Republic of North Macedonia¤
- United Kingdom
- United Nations
- United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
- United Nations Development Programme
- United States¤
- World Bank
¤ Participants in RCC Board
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.