Ministry of Foreign Affairs Foreign Policy Process of EU integration and regional cooperation Regional Initiatives
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Central-European Initiative (CEI)
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The Central European Initiative was created in 1989 from „quadrilateral cooperation" (Italy, Austria, former SFRY and Hungary). Today it has 18 Member States: Austria, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Serbia, Ukraine and Montenegro - tencountries are members of the EU, while the other eight are the Western Balkan countries and countries of the so-called European Neighbourhood - Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.During the crisis in ex-SFRY (until 2000), Serbia (or FRY) did not take part in the work of CEI.

The CEI Headquarters (CEI Secretariat) is based in Trieste. The CEI Secretary General is Ambassador Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri (Italy), who was elected to the post in January 2013.CEI is operating under the system of the annual rotating Presidency (from 1st January to 31st December). Serbia was presiding over the Initiative in 2011 and Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country currently holding the CEI Presidency.

In addition to the Secretariat and Presidency, CEI Troika has an important role in the functioning of the Initiative. It operates as extended CEI Troika, with Italy as a permanent member, due to its special role in the Initiative.

CEI, unlike most other regional initiatives, has its own funds for financing or co-financing cooperation projects. In addition to the regular annual contributions of the Member States, CEI activities are financed from a special fund, the CEI Fund at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is fully supported by Italy in the amount of approx. 2 million EUR per year, as well as from other donations of Italy and Austria, and occasionally some small donations of other CEI Member States (to support the Know-how Exchange Programme). With strong cooperation, and financial support of the European Commission and the EBRD, the overall financial impact through the implementation of projects is much higher.

In the framework of CEI, the following meetings are being organised: regular annual summits of heads of governments, meetings of foreign ministers, meetings of economic experts, etc.Meetings of CEI National Coordinators are held several times a year. Parliamentary cooperation takes place within the framework of CEI Parliamentary Assembly.

The strategic goal and basis of all CEI activities is: "regional cooperation for European integration". The fact that CEI is composed of two groups of countries – countries which are members of the EU and non-EU CEI Member States, significantly contributes to the acceleration of the EU integration process of CEI Member States that are not within the EU. Development of quality and functional project-oriented cooperation encourages faster adoption of EU standards, and creates preconditions for their full EU integration.

With a view to strengthening the process of European integration of the whole region, one of the main CEI priorities is cooperation with the European Union and creation of conditions for signing a special agreement between CEI and the European Commission.CEI activities are mainly focused on realization of concrete cooperation projects in the region. They are being carried out on the basis of CEI Plan of Action for the period of two years.CEI focal points (experts from CEI Member States) have crucial role in selecting high quality projects.

By obtaining the observer status in the United Nations General Assembly (in 2011), CEI significantly improved its overall prestige and strengthened its role as an integration and stabilization factor in the region and beyond. Serbia presided over CEI in 2011.

For more details see 

After Bosnia and Herzegovina, CEI presidency was taken over by the Republic of Belarus (2017).

The National Coordinator of the Republic of Serbia for CEI is Dejan Ralević (phone: + 381 11 306 8728 e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

CEI Secretariat in Trieste