Central Europe: fit for the future, a report by the 15-member High-Level Reflection Group, states that Central Europe undoubtedly represents an exceptional success story ten years after joining the European Union. Its authors claim that if the region shared a common agenda, it would strengthen its position in Brussels and also unleash its full potential. This viewpoint, presented in the report, was further reviewed at the panel discussion held at Prague’s Polish embassy on 7th April 2014

The report was initiated by the Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) and demosEUROPA-Centre for European Strategy. The report says that the region and its political leadership should focus on innovation and be supporting the excellence in technology instead of merely offering cheap labor and concessions to foreign investors.

One of the primary recommendations of the report is to begin a closer dialogue with Austria. Another key suggestion is to learn from an example of successful regional cooperation of the Nordic countries. Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic also need to integrate the Roma minority and ensure its access to education and the labor market. The report proposes to deepen cooperation in the energy sector and interconnection of the infrastructure.

Paweł Świeboda, President of demosEUROPA – Centre for European Strategy, has said that the region has to initiate economic remodeling to avoid the middle-income trap. He has added that it is a challenging goal because since the 1960s only 14 countries successfully implemented such reforms.

Other participants in the panel discussion were Milan Nič (Executive Director, Central European Policy Institute – CEPI, Slovakia), Peter Javorčík (State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Slovakia) and Rainer Münz (Head of Research and Knowledge Center, Erste Group Bank AG, Austria).

The discussion in Prague was held under the auspices of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Lubomír Zaorálek, and it was opened by Petr Drulák, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and Grazyna Bernatowicz, Ambassador of Poland to the Czech Republic. The event was organized by CEPI, demosEUROPA and Aspen Institute Prague.