News archive - Ministerial Meeting of the Western Balkans Platforms on Education and Training & Research and Innovation

Background information

In 2020 we commemorate the 17th anniversary  of the foundations for the ongoing relations between the European Union and the economies of the Western Balkans laid down by the European Council, commonly known as the conclusions from the EU-Western Balkans Summit held on 21 June 2003 in Thessaloniki. A joint Declaration was adopted at the Summit that, among other things, welcomed the endorsement of the Thessaloniki agenda for the Western Balkans.

In that period, the greatest challenge for the Western Balkans was to alleviate the exclusionary nationalistic and deteriorating political forces. Today, policies across the region are consolidated in favour of integration into the European Union. Obviously, numerous challenges remain, such as the regional cooperation and weak  Western Balkans’ institutional capacities.

Fostering the stability and prosperity of the region remains a key priority for the EU, especially taking into account the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic which is hitting hard the Western Balkan societies and economies. As outlined in the European Commission priorities, green transition, digital transformation and an economy that works for people are crucial for relaunching and modernising the economies of the Western Balkans, helping to create jobs and growth, addressing the long-standing challenges faced by young people in the region such as limited job prospects, and inequality. Research, innovation, education and culture are essential drivers in this process - underpinned by evidence-based policymaking.

In such a context, the Western Balkans Platforms on Education and Training & Research and Innovation play a central role in stimulating, monitoring and supporting the cooperation in research, education and innovation between the European Union Member States, the European Commission and the Western Balkans to EU funded programmes and beyond. The annual Platforms’ Ministerial meetings allow identifying common priorities, discussing latest policy and reforming measures, deciding on spin-off activities and follow-up measures as well as on topics for regional cooperation with EU assistance.

The Western Balkans Steering Platform on Research and Innovation was launched in 2006. It now meets annually at Ministerial level and aims to support the enhanced integration of the Western Balkan Six (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) into the European Research Area. It is a strategic body to deal with European, multilateral and regional issues of Research and Innovation policies in and with the Western Balkans. It also acts as an information exchange centre where the latest national developments in a given field are presented, discussed and best practices are exchanged.

In cooperation with the Ministries of Education of the Western Balkans Six, the Commission launched the Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training on 7 March 2012. Its objectives are to support the transition for the candidate countries and to better prepare the potential candidates in the region for their eventual participation in European Union policies and programmes on education and training. The Ministerial Platform meetings, which convene the Ministers responsible for education in the region and their main staff, decide on spin-off activities and follow-up measures to be taken.

This year, the joint Ministerial Meeting of the Western Balkans Platforms on Education and Training & Research and Innovation brings together key stakeholders from the European Union and the Western Balkan region in an online exchange forum.

During the meeting, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, presents 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 EU and the Western Balkans.

For the German EU Council Presidency, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Education and Research Thomas Rachel will further highlight the efforts of the Council Presidency directed towards the Western Balkans in the fields of education, research, innovation and culture. Furthermore, distinguished keynote speakers contribute to the Ministerial Round Table discussions.


* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence 

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

Entry created by Admin on December 15, 2020
Modified on December 15, 2020