Government of Republic of Moldova

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova


History and concept of CEI

The Central European Initiative (CEI) is the oldest and largest intergovernmental forum for regional cooperation in Europe, with observer status at the United Nations General Assembly (Resolution 66/111, 09.12.2011).

The origin of the CEI lays in the creation of the Quadrangular in Budapest on November 11, 1989, the founding states being Austria, Hungary, Italy and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On this occasion, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the four founding members adopted a joint statement proclaiming their governments' willingness to strengthen good-neighborly relations and to develop cooperation between the participating countries.

In 1990, Czechoslovakia has joined and the Initiative, transforming it in the Pentagonale, in 1991, with the admission of Poland, the initiative has became Hexagonale.

The organization was renamed the Central European Initiative in 1992, after the admission of the new member states. The extension of the Initiative continued in 1993, 1996, and from 2000 to 2006, with the admission of the last country, Montenegro, the number of Member States increased to eighteen. In the 2018, Austria announced its intention to renounce its status as a Member State.

The major objective of the CEI is to strengthen cooperation between the Central, Eastern and South-Eastern European countries, taking into account their preparation for future membership of the European Union.

The initiative operates in a flexible way and involves a range of interaction formats to promote intergovernmental, inter-parliamentary cooperation and business affairs.

The CEI Secretariat has its headquarters in Trieste.

ICE Objectives
  • Strengthening cooperation between Member States and non-EU members;
  • Maintaining cooperation and good neighborly-relations;
  • Fostering multilateral economic cooperation, focusing on cross-border and inter-regional cooperation, modernization of infrastructure, communications and energy, promoting trade and investment;
  • Promoting cooperation in the fields of environmental protection, tourism and agriculture;
  • Promoting cultural projects to strengthen people-to-people contacts, knowledge of the cultural peculiarities of each Member State;
  • The development of civil society.

Organization priorities established within the areas of cooperation are clearly defined in the Three-Year Action Plan.

The CEI Know-How Exchange Programme (KEP)

Being launched in 2004, the program has the objective to support the transfer of know-how knowledge from the EU member states to the non-EU CEI participants. Particular emphasis is put on the areas where the institutions know-how of the CEI donor countries have a long-lasting experience and the recipient states need additional assistance.

The program is open to public and private sector organizations, international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the public interest and registered in an EU member state of the CEI.

Projects supported by the KEP should have an economic background covering the economic transition or institution building and must be carried out using different tools of know-how transfer instruments (study visits, personnel deployment, manual preparation, etc.), which guarantees the efficient transfer of knowledge.

CEI Member States

The CEI member states are: 9 EU member states - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary - and 8 non-EU states - Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine.

Guidelines and Rules of Procedure

PDF icon Guidelines and Rules of Procedure

  • The intergovernmental dimension provides political and economic guidance for the Member States and is responsible for the implementation of organizational and financial directives of the Initiative, consisting of the following bodies:
  1. Meeting of the Heads of Government (CEI Summit): Adopts decisions on the political and economic guidelines for cooperation in the CEI, adopts multi-annual action plans, takes decisions on the creation and dismissal of the working structures, approval/deprivation of the membership status;
  2. Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (MFA Meeting): decides on the political issues of the region, areas and ways of cooperation, working bodies, budget and secretariat personnel issues, appointment or revocation of the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General of the Executive Secretariat;
  3. Committee of National Coordinators (CNC) meetings - the main body responsible for management of the organization's cooperation and coordinating the elaboration of programs and regional projects selection; prepares documents to be submitted for approval on the Ministers of Foreign Affairs Meetings and Summits Heads of Government of CEI.
  4. Ministerial meetings on certain areas of cooperation;
  5. Ministerial meetings on certain areas of cooperation;
  6. The Executive Secretariat (CEI-ES): has a role of coordinator of the activities within the Organization and is responsible for the development and implementation of EU projects and programs.
  • Interparliamentary cooperation is carried out through meetings of representatives of the Parliaments of the CEI Member States (Parliamentary Assembly, Parliamentary Committees and Sectorial Committees).
  • Business community representatives meet within Business Dimension (BD).

Coordination of activities is ensured by the Presidency, which is held by a Member State according to the rotation principle, for a period of one year, usually in alphabetical order. Since 1 January 2017, the Presidency of the CEI has been held by Belarus, and in 2018 it is exercised by Croatia.

Decisions at CEI level are based on consensus.

Executive Secretariat

The headquarters of the CEI Executive Secretariat are in Trieste (Italy) and Secretariat is headed by the Secretary General (since 2013 - Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri, Italy). The SG's activity is supported by Deputy Secretary General (from 2018 - Antal Nikoletti, Hungary). The Executive Secretariat provides the necessary assistance to the Presidency in the exercising of its duties and prepares the CEI meetings and conferences.

The EBRD headquarters in London have The Secretariat for CEI Projects, which provides assistance in preparing project funding documents. The Secretariat for CEI Projects is institutionally linked to the Executive Secretariat of Trieste.