Unique work permits between Serbia and the region will come to life by the end of March

, News

According to the promises of the governments of the three countries, preparations for issuing single work permits within the Open Balkans initiative for the citizens of Serbia, Northern Macedonia and Albania will be completed in the first quarter of this year, said Serbian Chamber of Commerce President Marko Cadez.
He pointed out, in a statement for Tanjug, that the signing of six agreements at the summit in Tirana in December made the Open Balkans alive.
Cadez says that some agreements within the “Open Balkans” initiative are already being implemented on the ground, such as harmonization of working hours of all services at border crossings, including veterinary and phytosanitary ones, which are now working 24/7.
He emphasizes that the harmonization of the working hours of the border services is of great help to the businessmen of Serbia, Albania and Northern Macedonia, and that they can now import and export goods faster and easier.
“Also, the competent veterinary and phytosanitary services have agreed to recognize each other’s documentation, which means that there are no more waiting lists at the borders due to sampling of animal and plant origin. Exceptions are risky products, which is less than seven percent of total goods,” Cadez said.
That, he says, is a big change for the economy, because the procedures so far have kept trucks at border crossings.
Cadez reminds that the three countries in Tirana, among other things, have committed themselves to the introduction of a single work permit.
He believes that this is a “revolutionary move”, which should come to life on the ground in the first quarter of 2022, that is, by the end of March.
“Governments have committed to that deadline, followed by ratification of the agreement in the parliaments of all three countries. Leaders and governments have confirmed that it can be completed within the announced deadline, so that citizens can register in the simplest way after the first quarter and work in the other two countries of the Open Balkans,” Cadez said.
He pointed out that all three countries have a problem with the lack of labor in various sectors, Serbia, for example, in the construction industry, and Albania, for example, in the field of tourism.
“Why wouldn’t students from Belgrade, Novi Sad and other parts of Serbia work on the Albanian coast during the summer, or their construction workers, engineers, electricians, come to work with us?” Cadez asked.
By the end of March, he added, the Open Balkan ID number will be issued, which is in the function of applying for a single work permit. He explains that this will enable citizens to register more easily, to get an eID number from the eGovernment in their country, and with that number to apply for a work permit in another country in the Open Balkans.
Cadez added that after the signing of the agreement in Tirana, all three countries will recognize the status of “authorized economic operator” (AEOS) acquired in the home country. It means that they have fulfilled all domestic and international standards to perform customs clearance and necessary controls at home, in their warehouses, and to submit the documentation to the border service electronically.
This, Cadez explained, created the conditions for such companies to cross borders without delay. Not only because now all three countries have mutually signed agreements on the recognition of AEOS status, but also because they have committed to establish additional lanes at the border crossings for trucks of those companies.
“We expect it to be in the first half of 2022. In order not to wait for the completion of construction works, we have proposed and I think it will be accepted immediately after the holidays, that one of the existing lanes be marked for authorized economic operators – trucks of companies with that status can pass by, and when there are no goods of other companies,” announced Cadez.
Cadez sees the statement of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, that those three countries may one day form a customs union, as a “logical step”.
“The customs union is the next level, perhaps the highest level when it comes to the single market, which implies a common customs policy towards all foreign trade partners and practically defines, as in the EU, the single market in the broadest possible sense,” said Cadez.
Asked whether there are messages from the region about possible joining the Open Balkans initiative, Cadez answered that this is the wish of businessmen from all economies in the region.
“The economy is for that, there is no doubt. We are in constant communication with both Kosovo and companies from BiH and Montenegro,” Cadez told Tanjug.
He is convinced that the results of the three countries that were the first to start building a common market will start next year and remain to join the initiative, which was originally designed for the entire Western Balkans.
He reminds that the three leaders at the summit in Tirana, once again confirmed that the initiative is open for the entire region and invited the others to join Albania, Serbia and Northern Macedonia in building the Open Balkans as soon as possible, Dnevnik reports.