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External imbalances also started to rise as exports slowed, due to falling demand from EU trading partners amid rising trade tensions. Sizeable internal and external imbalances in several Western Balkan countries, along with elevated public debt, expose the region to adverse economic shocks.

The higher public spending has compromised an opportunity to build the much-needed fiscal buffers to be able to cushion the impact of rising external uncertainties. Positive outlook for —21 masks underlying vulnerabilities, as downside risks intensify.

All countries are projected to grow faster, except Montenegro, where the phasing-out of an investment cycle is projected to moderate growth. However, this positive outlook is vulnerable to mounting risks. Rising trade tensions and oil price volatility further raise the external risks. At the same time, political polarization in several countries in the region, as well as weather-related shocks affecting agricultural and energy production, add to domestic uncertainties.

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Improving the efficiency and equity of public spending and strengthening revenue mobilization remains a priority in all Western Balkan countries. Public sector wage bills and pensions constitute the largest share of public spending in the region. Tighter controls on wage bills, reducing tax expenditures, and better targeting of social benefits would open space for more public investment, improve equity, and enable the build-up of fiscal buffers to mitigate rising risks.

Together, these reforms would help unlock stronger and more sustainable growth, ensuring faster convergence with EU income levels.

Economic convergence of the Western Balkans towards the EU

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Artwork: Angel Profiles, by Eduart Karaj. A semi-annual report on recent economic developments and economic policies in the Western Balkans Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia , this edition looks at the economic performance and outlook for the Western Balkans region and specific factors that affect growth prospects.

Economic growth in the region is slowing after a short-lived revival of investment. Internal and external imbalances are rising.

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Rising uncertainties call for rapid improvement in public finances and competitiveness. The reader will benefit from understanding the key economic challenges, which, if effectively addressed, will lead to deepening the union, or in contrast to a multi-speed Europe. Vasileios A. He has authored several articles in refereed journals and chapters in edited volumes, and has edited books and special issues of refereed journals. He has authored several monographs, articles in refereed journals, and chapters in edited volumes, and has edited several books and special issues of refereed journals.

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Undoubtedly, multi-cultural environments are not easy to work with and often economic issues become perplexing, uncompromising and, most importantly, vitally important. This book offers a timely investigation about some of the key challenges the European Union is now facing.

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Bruno S. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. Publishing With Us. Book Authors Journal Authors. Free Preview. Covers current and pressing issues in the European Union Discusses shortcomings and challenges the European Union must tackle before further deepening and widening Contains contributions from scholars and experts across Europe see more benefits.

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