What can governments do to make the economic policy more crisis resilient? The CEI-Executive Secretariat, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Montenegrin CEI Presidency recently held an online Chief Economists’ Forum that revolved around this question.

High-level economists from CEI Member States touched upon urgent issues such as overcoming policy uncertainty, greening and digitilisation, social inclusion and cohesion and prompted discussions on lessons learnt this past year in order to set Europe on a new sustainable growth path.

They carried out a macroeconomic review of the current situation and prospects for the future, taking into account the development of main economic indicators such as GDP growth, labour, inflation; the sectors that have been affected the most, e.g. tourism, catering, logistics, transport, banking; as well as actions taken and to be taken to counter the unfavourable effects of the crisis.

CEI Secretary General, Roberto Antonione pointed out that exchanging knowledge on the economic challenges was particularly important, and that a strong international engagement and mobilisation, especially through a coordinated multilateral approach, was crucial. “Well framed policies must include all relevant stakeholders, and only by involving all actors, from Ministries, international organisations and international financial institutions as well as regional organisations could we reach a breakthrough”, he said.

EIB Chief Economist Debora Revoltella, stressed that a revisited more sustainable growth model was needed to face the current challenges. Her idea was backed up by her colleague, Senior Economist Iron Gereben who outlined 4 pillars of the new growth model, innovation, digital technologies, climate change mitigation and skills, labour and social inclusion, elaborating that post-accession convergence was chiefly to be based on exports, low labour costs, foreign direct investments and technology imports.

The overall conclusions indicated that in the long run, to lead Europe out of the crisis a long-term vision on the green and digital transformation is needed; as well as policy measures such as the involvement of both public and private stakeholders; improvement of the quality of public finance, fiscal reforms; mutual learning and common policy actions.

Supporting this frame of mind, CEI Alternate Secretary General Antal Nikoletti, emphasised that the gathering was part of a series of events to be concluded with the meeting of Ministers of Economy/Finance envisaged this year, and that this forum particularly stood out “because we want to look beyond the short term actualities and address the potential implications on economic structures by Covid”.