Historical framework: from the Stability Pact to the Regional Cooperation Council
The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) operates as a coordinating structure for regional cooperation among South East European countries, including also the European Commission and other donor countries, including Italy.
The Regional Cooperation Council succeeded in 2008 to the Stability Pact for South East Europe following the request for “empowerment” advanced by SEE Countries, beneficiaries of the Pact, and therefore their willingness to move from a “paternalistic” phase to a more active one.
The Regional Cooperation Council provides secretarial and logistical assistance to the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), set up by the SEE Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Sofia in 1996 as an initiative for regional cooperation. Currently, SEECP members are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, and Kosovo, in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 concerning its status. SEECP aims at strengthening good neighborly relations among the countries of South East Europe in order to create an area of peace, stability, security and collaboration, as well as the full integration of the region into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.
RCC activities were formally launched on 27th February 2008 at the meeting of SEECP Foreign Ministers in Sofia, when the Stability Pact was formally closed.
RCC membership includes all SEECP member countries, as well as the European Union, represented by its High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and a representative of the European Commission, and some donor countries actively and substantially engaged in regional cooperation in South East Europe, including Italy.
Pursuing SEECP political directives, RCC works to develop and maintain, among its members, a political climate of dialogue, reconciliation, tolerance and cooperation, in order to foster implementation of regional programs aimed at the economic and social development of people of South East Europe.
RCC works in close collaboration with all the governments of South East Europe and with all other regional cooperation organizations operating in the area.
Regional Cooperation Council operations are implemented in line with its Statute, triennial strategies and work programmes (SWP). More in general, they are also inspired by the SEE 2020 Strategy (adopted in 2013 by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo – pursuant to UNSCR 1244, Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia), as well as by the MAP REA – the Multi-annual Action Plan on Regional Economic Area, endorsed by the leaders of Western Balkans Six (WB6) at the Berlin-process summit held on 12 July 2017 in Trieste.
RCC: Functioning and areas of activity
The Regional Cooperation Council supports regional cooperation in South-eastern Europe, promotes European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the region and provides the South East European Cooperation Process with operational support through its secretariat.
RCC priority areas are:
- Skills and Mobility
- Rule of Law
- Security Cooperation
The Regional Cooperation Council is chaired by a Secretary General, currently Mrs. Majlinda Bregu, former Minister of European Integration of Albania, assisted by a secretariat based in Sarajevo and a liaison office in Brussels.
The Council meets annually, at Senior Civil Servants level, beside the SEECP Annual Summit, to ensure strategic coordination and development of regional cooperation processes, to approve the annual report of the RCC General Secretary and the strategic programme for the following year.
RCC maintains close contacts with international organizations and other regional cooperation bodies: representatives of UN, EU, OSCE, CEI, BSEC, World Bank attend RCC meetings.
The Board of the Council, including RCC members who contribute to the budget of the Secretariat, namely SEECP Countries, as well as different donor countries (including Italy) and the European Union, meets three times a year to ensure continuity of address and supervision of RCC activities.
The RCC has an annual budget of around 4 million Euros, more than half of which is funded by the European Commission, for about one million euros by beneficiary countries and for about half a million by bilateral donations of few EU countries (including Italy) and non-EU countries (Switzerland, United States).