News archive - Western Balkans Summit, Vienna 2015 - Conclusions and Final declaration by the chair

One  year  after  the  Berlin  Western  Balkans  Summit,  the  heads  of  government, foreign ministers and economics ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Croatia, Slovenia, last year’s host  Germany,  future  hosts  France  and  Italy, representatives  of  the  European Commission  and  the  European  External  Action  Service  and  International Financial  Institutions met  in Vienna on 27 August  2015 for  the  second  Summit Meeting on the Western Balkans in the framework of the 'Berlin process'. 

The Final Declaration includes the following topics: General Progress and the European Perspective, Regional Cooperation and the Solution of Bilateral Disputes, Rule of Law and Good Governance, Fight against Extremism and Radicalisation, Migration, Economic Prosperity and Connectivity, Market integration – Trade Facilitation, Mobility and Joint Growth Initiatives, Youth, Education, Science and Research and Civil Society. 

As regarding Youth, Education, Science and Research, the Summit concludes the following:

  • 30. Improving the perspective of young generations is of paramount importance in ensuring  stability,  sustainable  development  and progress  of  the  region.  In  this context  the  participating  States  underline  the  need  to  enhance  youth  mobility between the EU and the region and in the region itself. 
  • 31. The participating States agree to continue with the work on the basis of the "Positive agenda for the Youth in the Western Balkans", which was launched at the Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brdo in April 2015 and note with satisfaction the progress that was already achieved in developing concrete proposals and ideas, welcoming  the  proposal  of  the  European  Commission  to organise  an Enlargement Conference in the first half of 2016 focusing on youth issues.  
  • 32. The participating States applaud the agreement signed today (see annex on youth exchange - Addendum), upon the initiative of the Prime Ministers of Serbia and Albania, to  establish  a  Regional  Youth  Cooperation  Office  of  the  Western  Balkans  and welcome the support of the German-French Youth Office in setting it up.  
  • 33. Higher Education, Science and Research: The participating States commit themselves to encouraging their universities in offering an appropriate number of cooperation  programmes  and  studying  opportunities  for  students  from  the Western Balkans under the Erasmus+ programme. All participants welcome the ‘Western Balkans Youth Window’ established under Erasmus+ in 2015 providing opportunities  for  capacity-building  in  the  youth  sector.  The  Western  Balkan countries agree to establish Erasmus+ National Agencies in order to be able to benefit  fully  from  the  Erasmus+  programme  and  increase  cooperation  and mobility in education and youth.  
  • 34. Mobility of the youth within the region shall be encouraged by promoting and enhancing  existing  programs  such  as  CEEPUS (Central  European  Exchange Program  for  University  Studies)  and  by  setting  up  additional  joint  degree programmes where students study both in the region as well as in the EU. In this regard, the participating States strongly encourage their universities to ensure the mutual  recognition  of  diplomas  within  the  shortest  possible  timeframe  -  on  the basis of the Lisbon Recognition Convention. 
  • 35. The participating States welcome last month’s ‘1st  Joint Science Conference Western Balkans’ in Berlin/Halle recommending to allocate 3% of national GDP for  education,  science  and  research,  and  to  establish  regional  Centres  of Excellence. The Participants welcome the suggestions to reduce brain drain and to  install  a  science-politics-society  dialogue  for decision-making taking  into account existing platforms in the field, such as the Steering Platform on Research for  the  Western Balkan  Countries facilitating  the  interaction  among  Western Balkan  Countries,  as  well  as  the  online  information Platform  on  Research Technology and Innovation for the Western Balkan Countries (WBC-RTI.INFO) . The Austrian Academy of Science has agreed to hold the next round of the ‘Joint Science Conference Western Balkans’ in Vienna. 
  • 36.  Dual  Vocational  Education:  The introduction or expansion of dual vocational training  is  a  key  element  to  tackle  growing global  competition,  high  youth unemployment and an increasing lack of skilled labour. The participating States agree to support the development of a vocational training system in the region. Austria  is  willing  to  work  on  the  improvement  of  the vocational education  and training system in the region based on the ‘Roadmap to a sustainable apprentice system’.  A conference bringing together  dual  vocational  training  experts, companies  and  potential  funding  agencies  as  well  as European  actors  is envisaged for the beginning of 2016.
  • 37.  The  participating  States  re-iterate  their  support  for  regional  co-operation  in education  and  training  and  recognise  the work  done  since  2012  under  the Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training. The continued cooperation to strengthen reform  efforts  of  the  education  systems  in  the  region  should  be encouraged  in  order  to  provide  youth  with relevant  basic and  transversal  skills required  by  the  regional  labour  market.  The  participants  further  welcome  the establishment  of the Education  Reform  Initiative  of  South  Eastern  Europe  (ERI SEE)  as  a  regionally-owned international  institution  and  ask  the European Commission and the RCC to assist in furthering the work of the ERI SEE towards an increased use of the European cooperation instruments and funds.  
Geographical focus
  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Croatia
  • Montenegro
  • Republic of North Macedonia
  • Serbia
  • WBC
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Ines Marinkovic on August 28, 2015
Modified on August 28, 2015