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CEI - General information

CEI is the oldest and largest sub-regional co-operation initiative that emerged in Central and Eastern Europe. It was established in 1989, and it has 18 Member States: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

Functioning and Structures

National coordinators of the Member States meet five times per year in order to discuss activities of the Initiative and adopt project proposals for joint cooperation. A majority of meetings take place at the offices of the Executive Secretariat of CEI located in Trieste, Italy. Political Directors meet every October in Rome. Ministerial meetings and the Summit of the Heads of Governments take place every year in the country that presides over the Initiative. CEI also coordinates meetings on the ministerial level for certain areas, as well as thematic meetings related to the specific areas of cooperation. Ministers of economics meet under the CEI Summit Economic Forum (SEF). The above-mentioned structures form the Governmental Dimension, which develops activities at political level.

Representatives of the National Parliaments collaborate and meet under the CEI Parliamentary Dimension, and the representatives of the Chambers of Commerce meet under the CEI Business Dimension (CECCI).

Main objective

The main goals of the CEI are to develop cooperation between the states of Central, East and South-East European countries, to support the Member States in their transition into stable democratic systems and market economies and to provide assistance to the EU candidate countries in preparing for membership in European Union.

The one-year presidency of CEI (from January 1 to December 31) is taken up by each of the Member States in turn, according to the order of their names in English alphabet. Montenegro has assumed the presidency over the Initiative for 2010, to be followed next year by Serbia.

The Executive Secretariat of CEI is located in Trieste, Italy. All the relevant information about the activities of Central European Initiative can be found on the official website:

Cooperation and Synergies

The CEI works in close cooperation with several international and regional organizations. By joining experience, knowledge and funds with partner organizations, the CEI was able to enhance its impact. It has, therefore, developed a variety of working relations with partners throughout Europe.

Cooperation between the CEI and other regional actors is ensured through Coordination Meetings. These meetings are aimed at guaranteeing that cooperation among the regional organisations is enhanced and that possible duplications or overlapping in concrete activities are avoided. Moreover, these meetings provide an excellent opportunity for establishing contacts on bi- or trilateral level. Indeed, the CEI-ES has an excellent bilateral cooperation with the RCC, BSEC and AII. Furthermore, the CEI-ES and the RCC Secretariat have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

In the economic sector, a close partnership with the EBRD has been established. In areas such as agriculture, environment, SMEs and transport, co-operation with international organizations like UNECE, UNEP, OECD, FAO is a standing practice. In the human development areas (culture, education, minorities, media, etc.) the CEI has found strong partners with expert knowledge in a number of specialised organisations such as UNESCO, OSCE, the Council of Europe and others.

As regards cooperation with the European Commission (EC), this relationship has always been a key factor of concern of the CEI. The CEI-ES, through its Secretariat for EU Projects (former Funding Unit) has succeeded in obtaining support from the EU funds for more than a dozen CEI projects as partner, covering various areas (e.g. spatial development, ICT and information society, transport, SME development, energy, etc.). An important development is that the CEI has obtained the role of lead partner in some of them. Through this operational and project-oriented approach, the CEI will continue further pursuing stronger institutional ties with the EC.