Through their Warsaw Joint Declaration, the Presidents and their representatives participating in the Second Summit of the Three Seas Initiative, in July 2017, decided the establishment of a Business Forum with the objective of bringing together economic entities interested in economic cooperation aimed at enhancing economic bonds within the region.
The first edition of the Forum was organized in Romania, in the margins of 2018 Three Seas Summit, on 17-18 September 2018. It will become a regular, annual event. The Forum facilitated the gathering of representatives of companies from the 12 participating states in the Initiative, the US, other EU Member States, the Western Balkans, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey.
It represented the occasion for direct contact between diverse business representatives from the region, with relevant Government officials from these countries and other economic stakeholders such as international financial institutions, in order to find new business and investment opportunities.
A key objective of the Three Seas Initiative Summit in Bucharest is the development and high level political endorsement of a short list of priority regional interconnection projects in the Initiative’s main fields of interest – transport, energy and digital. These projects answer the needs and priorities of participating states, which generated and proposed them, and are most relevant to the region and its development, thereby substantially contributing to achieving the Three Seas Initiative’s main goal of facilitating higher interconnectivity in the region and between it and the rest of Europe.
The first edition of the Business Forum was be the framework to discuss this short list of major interconnection projects. These flagship projects should have impact upon the whole region or on a significant number of participants and have a high degree of feasibility.
The following indicative criteria were considered during the selection process of the priority projects:
- the regional impact of the projects;
- their compatibility with EU priorities and policies;
- the minimum number of countries involved should be at least 3 out of which at least 2 from the Three Seas Initiative region; thus, the projects could also involve countries that are not Three Seas
- Initiative participating states contiguous to the Three Seas region; bilateral projects could be considered only as an exception, as long as they are missing links of major regional projects;
the projects could be both new and existing ones;
- preference for projects that are already included in different EU programs and project priority lists; projects that involve innovative safe and sustainable new technologies and/or are seeking to upgrade the existing infrastructure;
- focus also on projects that connect similar economic operators from different states.
The first (and the following) edition(s) of the Business Forum should stimulate business in the region and also devote attention to high potential drivers of growth and innovation, such as SMEs, young entrepreneurship, start-ups and business incubators in the region, inter alia by facilitating the relevant exchange of know-how among participants and drawing comparative lessons from the public policies meant to simulate these sectors.
This objective will be followed by identifying active and representative partners of dialogue from these sectors, from governmental specialized institutions and other international stakeholders (such as international financing institutions) and on generating regional dialogue, new business ideas in the Three Seas Initiative geographical area.
A network of Chambers of Commerce from the participating states was created in order to support the activities of the Business Forum and connect the business communities in the region. A Joint Statement establishing this network was signed during the 2018 Business Forum.
The Business Forum, which will become a regular annual event, could also ensure a monitoring function on the evolution of the implementation of the shortlisted projects.