The Central European Initiative (CEI) is the oldest and largest of sub-regional co-operation initiatives that emerged in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the communist system. It was founded in 1989 by Austria, Italy, Hungary and Yugoslavia in 1989, as quadrilateral co-operation.
The origin of the Central European Initiative lies in the creation of the Quadragonale. At the first Summit in Venice in 1990, Czechoslovakia was admitted and the Initiative was renamed Pentagonal. In 1991, with the admission of Poland it became the Hexagonal. The organisation was renamed Central European Initiative (CEI) in 1992. On the same occasion, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia were admitted as Member States.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia were admitted to the CEI in 1993 following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. In 1996 Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine joined the CEI as full-fledged members. The current membership derives from the adhesion of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (afterwards State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and later on Serbia) in 2000 and of Montenegro in 2006.
Mission & Objectives of CEI
In order to offer a solid contribution to European integration, the CEI combines multilateral diplomacy and project management, both as donor and recipient, while also bridging European macro-regions.
The CEI strategic objectives are the following:
• Support CEI Member States on their path towards European integration;
• Promote the alignment of CEI Member States to EU standards;
• Implement small and medium-sized projects.
In this context, the aim of the political cooperation is to supply the countries and their institutions with a flexible, pragmatic platform for regional cooperation, while focusing on their preparation to a future accession to the European Union (EU).
In doing so, special attention is given to capacity building of the non-EU CEI Member States which, thanks to its ideal location, is pursued through know-how transfer and exchange of experience among those countries which are members of the EU and those which are not. The CEI is actively engaged in supporting projects in various areas of cooperation, also through the mobilisation of financial resources providing greater possibilities for studying, financing and executing national and international projects.
Organisational Structure of CEI
The CEI operates in a flexible manner to promote intergovernmental, inter-parliamentary and business cooperation.
• Governmental Dimension: It provides political and economic orientation and is responsible for the organisational and financial directives of the CEI.
• Parliamentary Dimension: CEI representatives of national Parliaments cooperate and meet in the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Committee and the General Committees.
• Business Dimension: It promotes an active participation of the business communities of the CEI Member States in a bottom-up approach, fostering inputs, open discussions and recommendations for Political Leadership.