THE EUROPEAN DIALOGUE on MODERNISATION IN BELARUS

April 22, 2016 18:07

The seminar “Privatisation and private entrepreneurship in Belarus. Scope for international assistance” Warsaw, 16 -17 April 2012

The seminar “Privatisation and private entrepreneurship in Belarus. Scope for international assistance” planned in Warsaw on 16 –17 April 2012, is organised within the new EU instrument for Belarusian civil society the European Dialogue on Modernisation in Belarus.

The goals of the seminar are the following: (1) to present legal and administrative requirements for successful privatisation and consolidation of the private entrepreneurship; (2) to endorse foreign recommendations concerning Belarusian privatisation reform; (3) to define potential assistance to be provided by the EU and international financial institutions.

The seminars’ discussion will be based on a few analytical papers on privatisation, elaborated by Belarusian and Polish independent experts on economic issues. Moreover during the seminar international experts will share their knowledge on macroeconomic situation and investment climate in Belarus, while representatives from the EU institutions will present financial incentives for privatisation reform.

We foresee to address in particular:

 - potential gains for Belarus from boosting entrepreneurship and increasing efficiency of privatised businesses;

 - current approach of the Belarusian authorities towards privatisation, private entrepreneurs and foreign investors;

 - role and importance of business associations and trade unions in the process of privatisation; ␣␣ main obstacles for privatisation reform in Belarus; ␣␣ business opportunities for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in state-dominated industries; ␣␣ role of the capital markets in providing investment capital to businesses;

 -  case studies of the most successful privatisation in Poland and other EU countries;

 -  advantages and disadvantages of various models of privatisation;

 -  foreign financial instruments supportive for Belarusian privatisation;

 -  international standards (including acquis communautaire, OECD norms), which Belarus could implement in order to upgrade its investment climate and raise effectiveness of privatisation reform.

The seminar is organised by the Solidarity Fund PL together with Warsaw Stock Exchange and CASE – Center for Social and Economic Research. The event is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.

Opening of the seminar will take place on April 16th, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Mr Radosław Sikorski and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Mr Štefan Füle.

The seminar will be divided into two working segments: the discussion panel and the thematic workshops, which goal is to elaborate the summary document including recommendations on privatisation reform in Belarus and information on the scope of existing and potential foreign assistance instruments. The discussion panel will be opened by Mr Ludwik Sobolewski, President of the Management Board and CEO of the Warsaw Stock Exchange and high-level specialist in the privatisation processes.

Panellists will be representing CASE Poland, EEAS, the European Commission, EU Delegation to Belarus, OECD, World Bank and IMF, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, MFA of the Republic of Poland. The Belarusian stakeholders will be represented by participants from independent civil society groups, including oppositional and expert ones – such as from the think tanks CASE Belarus, BISS, NISEPI, Centre of European Transformation, IPM Research Centre, BEROC, analysts from the magazine “Belarus i Rynok”, moreover representatives of Belarusian trade unions and experts from Belarusian administration.

The dialogue will be a multi-stakeholder process with three principal objectives:

(i) to develop a clearer understanding by the EU and by the Belarusian opposition and civil society on the vision of a modern and democratic Belarus, and on the necessary reforms to achieve the modernisation of Belarus; 

(ii) to clarify the related potential development of relations with the EU, based on the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, as well as possible EU support, focusing on areas where the EU could have an added value;

(iii) for Belarusian stakeholders to gain practical knowledge and insight from EU Member States’ experiences as regards transition processes.

The participation by civil society and the political opposition will be inclusive. Expert level representation from the administration will be considered on an ad-hoc basis. As regards the EU side, the dialogue will be co-organised by the EEAS and the Commission with involvement of EU Member States.

As for the outcome, the dialogue will assist the EU to update and extend the draft Joint Interim Plan (JIP) into what could become a draft “European Modernisation Plan for Belarus”, for discussion with the Government, when the situation allows. At the same time, the dialogue would increase the knowledge in Belarusian society about the prospects of substantive EU incentives.

Work would take place in four thematic working groups, following the themes of the Joint Interim Plan:

a) political dialogue and reform;

b) justice and home affairs, including mobility; people-to-people contacts;

c) economic, social reform and sector policy issues, including privatisation;

d) trade, market and regulatory reforms.

A core group of representatives of civil society and the opposition will be identified for each of the working groups. Each working group would be co-chaired by the EEAS/Commission in collaboration with interested EU Member States.

The dialogue will be overseen by a Steering Group, consisting of the leaders of the 6+ group or their representatives and civil society representatives from each of the working groups, as well as EU representatives.

The European Dialogue on Modernisation will be conducted in stages with the first stage running up until the parliamentary elections in September, and the second stage thereafter. The end date would be determined at a later stage.

The main areas of discussion would be derived from the Joint Interim Plan and focus on areas of EU expertise. Some indicative themes will be suggested by the co-chairs of the working groups. The working groups will be invited to suggest their priorities.

The meetings of the working groups would take place in Minsk and be organized by the EU Delegation in cooperation with MS Embassies. It would allow for a bottom-up approach. Meetings could also be held in EU Member States.

Supporting thematic seminars and events could be organised by EU member states and by the EEAS/ Commission. Apart from representatives from the opposition and civil society, expertise could be invited from other MS, relevant international organisations and, on an ad-hoc basis, from the Belarusian administration. Side events could also be organised by other actors.

The Steering Group would meet at regular occasions, including in Brussels, to review overall direction of the dialogue, in the light of reported progress in the working groups and other relevant developments.