News archive - Announcing the Western Balkans Ministerial meeting to further strengthen region ties to the EU in Education and Training & Research and Innovation


Press release

On Wednesday 2 December, the Ministerial Meeting of the Western Balkans Platforms on Education and Training & Research and Innovation will bring together key stakeholders from the European Union and Western Balkan region in an online exchange forum.

During the meeting, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, will present her vision and new narrative for the Western Balkans: the ‘Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport’, a comprehensive, long-term cooperation strategy of the European Union and the Western Balkans.

The meeting aims to facilitate the interaction between the six Western Balkan partners, the EU Member States, and other states associated to the Framework Programmes for the European Commission. The integration of the Western Balkan national education, research and innovation frameworks into the European Education, Research and Innovation Areas is an important step on the path towards the EU. The Western Balkan Six have increased participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ in the last years and are striving to become re-associated to both programmes.

Commenting on the cooperation, Commissioner Gabriel says: “Strong cooperation with the Western Balkans has always been at the core of my work, first as Digital Commissioner and now as Commissioner responsible for research, innovation, education, culture, youth and sport. I look forward very much to strengthening our cooperation in these fields and achieving tangible results for citizens, for the economy and for society. It is important to join forces to fully unlock the talent of the region and its potential, while accelerating the green and digital transitions.”

During the meeting, the Ministers responsible for Innovation, Research, Education and Culture from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia will discuss and put forward their views on the Western Balkans Agenda during Ministerial Round Tables. For the German EU Council Presidency, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Education and Research, State Secretary Thomas Rachel will highlight the efforts of the Council Presidency directed towards the Western Balkans in the fields of culture, Education, Research and Innovation. Furthermore, distinguished keynote speakers are contributing to the Ministerial Round Table discussions.

The consultation process on the text of the proposed Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth and its Action Plan – building on a political, a thematic, and regional pillar – will be completed by this Ministerial Meeting.


Horizon 2020: Open to the World  

Horizon 2020 is the largest multinational programme dedicated to research and innovation and it is ‘Open to the World.’ All Western Balkans (except Kosovo*) are fully associated to the European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Kosovo* is participating in the programme as a non-associated third country. Researchers, universities, research organisations, and companies from across the globe, have been able to apply and participate in the activities of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme. Partners associated to Horizon Europe have the same rights and obligations as their partners coming from the EU.


Horizon Europe

Investing in research and innovation is investing in Europe’s future. It helps us to compete globally and preserve our unique social model. It improves the daily lives of millions of people here in Europe and around the world, helping to solve some of our biggest societal challenges. Building  on  the  achievements  and  success  of  the  EU’s  past  flagship  research  and  innovation  programmes,  the  Commission  proposes  a  budget  of  €100  billion  for  2021-2027  for  Horizon  Europe. Horizon Europe is proposed as the most ambitious research and innovation funding programme ever. It will continue to drive Europe’s scientific excellence through the European Research Council and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships and exchanges and draw on the scientific advice, technical support and dedicated research of the Joint Research Centre (JRC). And it will add a new level of ambition and boost the scientific, economic and societal impact of EU funding.



Six non-EU countries fully participate in the programme. North Macedonia is a fully-fledged programme country since 2014 and Serbia since 2019.

Under the programme, opportunities in higher education for students, learners and staff have multiplied in recent years. Between 2015 and 2020, thanks to Erasmus+ around 49 000 students and staff have been exchanged between the EU and the Western Balkans. More and more higher education institutions in the region are engaged in the development of joint master’s degrees together with partners in Europe, participating in capacity building projects and preparing the ground for higher education reform. Under the Youth component of the Erasmus Programme around 16 000 young people from the region have taken part in non-formal exchanges and volunteering.


New Erasmus+

The programme will provide new opportunities to support higher education institutions to have a successful transition into the digital age, to equip their students and staff with the digital skills necessary for them to thrive in the future and contribute to the recovery from the COVID-19. It will also be more international, simpler and more inclusive. New opportunities will thus become available also the Western Balkans, including the Erasmus Virtual Exchanges and new actions in the field of VET (mobility and capacity building).


More information:                  


For general inquiries please contact:       

Antigoni Avgeropoulou (Scholz & Friends Berlin GmbH)     

T: +49 30 700 186 390          


Geographical focus
  • EC
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • General

Entry created by Admin on December 2, 2020
Modified on December 17, 2020