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Central European Initiative

The CEI: mission, structures, instruments and funds

The Central European Initiative is the oldest and largest regional co-operation forum which emerged in Central and Eastern Europe as an intergovernmental platform for political, economic and cultural co-operation.
Established in 1989, the CEI is composed of 18 Member States: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

The mission of the CEI is to bring closer the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and assist them in their transition to stable democracies and market economies as well as in their preparation process for EU membership.

In its 18 years of activity, the CEI has gained a large experience in promoting multilateral cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe.
In the wake of the recent EU enlargement, the CEI has increased its focus on exchange of experience and know-how in the transition process.
Such transfer originates from the 9 CEI Member States which are part of the EU, since they have acquired relevant knowledge in the preparations for EU membership.

The CEI is a 3-pillar organization and, therefore, operates through various structures. The Governmental Dimension, develops activities both at the political level (the annual Summit of the Heads of Government, the annual Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other ministerial events as well as monthly meetings of the Committee of National Co-ordinators) and at the expert level (meetings of the CEI Working Groups and Task Forces covering various areas related to economic, human and institutional development). The second pillar is the CEI Parliamentary Dimension which fosters the co-operation among the parliaments of the CEI Member States. Its highest body is the Parliamentary Assembly whose members acts within three General Committee (on political and home affairs, economic as well as cultural affairs). The Central European Cambers of Commerce Initiative (CECCI) represents the CEI Business Dimension, which acts as a regional forum for co-operation among the Chambers of Commerce in all CEI Member States.

Furthermore, the CEI has recently established new instruments for enhancing its potential.

The CEI University Network aims at facilitating co-operation among universities and other institutions of higher learning of the CEI Region through various types of post-graduate education programmes.
The CEI Science and Technology Network operates trough six international scientific lead institutions based in Trieste (Italy) and partners in other countries and offers to young scientist the opportunity to participate in PhD courses and trainings. The CEI Know-how Exchange Programme supports the transfer of specific know-how in economic transition and institution building.

Although the CEI is not a major donor organization, it disposes of several funds which are used to promote projects in diverse sectors of activity. The CEI Trust Fund at the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) is contributed by Italy and make "seed money" available for large EBRD investments. The CEI Co-operation Fund, consisting of contribution from all Member States provides financial support to activities such as seminars, workshop, conferences and trainings. The CEI Funding Unit has been recently created with the aim of attracting EU funding for CEI Projects by exploiting the added value of the CEI partnership, which is particularly suited for transnational and interregional cooperation among the countries at the external borders of the EU.

The CEI structures and activities are supported by the CEI Executive Secretariat (CEI-ES) and the Secretariat for CEI Projects (CEI-PS).
The former, established in 1996, is based in Trieste (Italy) and operates with the legal status of an International Organization, the latter has been operative at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London since 1991 and maintain offices both in Trieste and London.

For more information and details, please visit CEI official web site: http://www.ceinet.orgwww.ceinet.org .