Pay for it now. Or you'll fork out twice as much later on.

Without doubt, that's what some of the

European Union's

leaders will be thinking next Friday when they meet in Sarajevo to discuss investment and reconstruction in the Balkans following the Kosovo War.

The U.S. has already indicated that because it paid for the brunt of the Kosovo bombing campaign, the Europeans will have to shoulder responsibility for rebuilding and implementing a stability pact for the region.

If the leaders can come up with definitive sums of cash and hash out a significant reconstruction scheme for the Balkans, private investors are sure to follow closely behind. And while war-pounded Kosovo and its immediate neighbors, like Macedonia and Albania, will get a big chunk of the money, countries which are likely to serve as conduits for investment and reconstruction, such as Greece, Hungary and Bulgaria, also stand to benefit.

EU finance ministers have been cagey about naming figures, however, as most of them are engaged in cutting budgets and reigning in spending at home in order to meet their fiscal requirements for the euro.

The first clues the meeting will result in something substantive could come out of preparatory talks in Brussels on Wednesday.

World Bank

officials, as well as representatives of other international bodies, will participate in those talks.

EU leaders, however, probably realize that the best way to keep the region from becoming a problem in the future is to make its inhabitants as fat and happy as everyone else in Western Europe is today. Greece remains their prime example. While the cradle of democracy may still seem a bit of a backwater compared to the rest of the EU, its membership and support from the West has helped cement the country as a shining example of market-oriented democracy when compared to its neighbors.

The Earnings Autobahn

Next week will also be an earnings jamboree for German carmakers, as


will hold a press conference for first-half results on either Monday or Tuesday and


will follow suit on Wednesday. The party will continue in New York on Thursday when



will release its first-half earnings. The euro's recent weakness against the dollar is expected to help boost the Stuttgart-based auto giant's results.

On the economic front, the

European Central Bank's Governing Council

will meet on Thursday to discuss monetary policy for the eurozone. The meeting will be the last before the ECB breaks its summer recess and should be a bit of a snoozer; no press conference has been scheduled.

Central banker reverie could be interrupted, however, when figures for June euro area M3 money supply growth. The figures are to be released during the coming week, although no time has been set.

Strong credit growth has fuelled money supply growth of late, but "large net outflows from nonbanks have tempered (the) M3 rise," says Nigel Anderson, an economist for

Greenwich NatWest

in London. However, the "ECB has signaled that it will be watching credit trends closely."

While the ECB is dissecting the intricacies of eurozone private credit growth, much of the Balkans will simultaneously be hoping the EU will expand their credit, as well.