If we cooperate, CESEE’s success story of past decades will continue

(, Vienna)

OeNB Governor Holzmann opens Conference on European Economic Integration (CEEI) 2019 of Austrian central bank

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In his opening speech at the Conference on European Economic Integration (CEEI) 2019, Robert Holzmann, Governor of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB), said that Austria would support developing financial markets in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) by sharing experience with products, regulation and supervision. Austria would also act as a fair broker for European economic integration. This year, the OeNB’s CEEI takes place on Monday, November 25, and Tuesday, November 26, 2019, and commemorates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. More than 300 participants, including high-ranking representatives of central and commercial banks as well as speakers from international organizations, financial institutions and academia, will review three decades of political and economic transformation in CESEE and explore the challenges lying ahead.

Against the background of his personal recollections of his work as an IMF advisor to the Polish government in 1989, Governor Holzmann started out by complimenting the CESEE countries on their impressive transition from centrally planned socialism to modern democratic capitalism, which has been paralleled by the process of European integration. He noted, however, that despite respectable achievements, many people have perceived the path of transformation as being too long, difficult and painful. As a result, unfulfilled promises and unrealistic expectations have produced various social, economic and political ramifications that are reflected in mounting attacks against democratic institutions.

As the rising national populism resonates particularly well with those who feel “lost in transition,” it is of utmost importance for the CESEE region to continue fostering convergence by spurring inclusive economic growth. This is all the more important as potential growth will be strongly limited in the medium to long run by adverse demographic developments. The current challenge is therefore to keep older people in the workforce and to turn the ongoing brain drain into a brain gain. Finally, Governor Holzmann stressed the importance of the further integration and deepening of capital markets both within EMU and in CESEE.

Looking ahead, Governor Holzmann expects CESEE to continue to face a wide range of challenges, adjustment needs and new types of transition. However, if Austria and its CESEE partners cooperate in the spirit of the official motto of the European Union, “United in diversity,” CESEE’s success story of the past decades will be able continue.