News archive - What the Enlargement Package says on Science and Research

The European Commission's "Enlargement package", adopted in October 2022, provides a detailed assessment of the state of play and the progress made by the Western Balkans and Türkiye on their respective paths towards the European Union, with a particular focus on implementing fundamental reforms, as well as clear guidance on the reform priorities ahead. Science and Research are covered in Chapter 25. Below we provide the texts and recommend looking into the full reports.

Chapter 25 "Science and Research"

The EU provides significant support for research and innovation. All EU Member States can benefit from the EU’s research programmes, especially where there is scientific excellence and solid investment in research.


Albania has some level of preparation in the area of science and research. Some progress was made over the reporting period, with the establishment of the Inter-Institutional Working Group for monitoring the implementation of the 2017–2022 National Strategy for Scientific Research, Technology and Innovation. Last year’s recommendations have not been fully addressed and therefore remain valid.
In the coming year, Albania should in particular:
→ increase investment in research, in line with its own commitments and the new European Research Area priorities;
→ complete the Smart Specialisation Strategy and adopt the law on scientific research;
→ produce statistics and reliable data on science and technology, including the indicator on gross domestic expenditure on Research and Innovation

On research and innovation policy, an inter-institutional working group was established in 2021, to monitor the implementation of the National Strategy for Scientific Research, Technology and Innovation 2017–2022. The new strategy on Research has to be developed and adopted.
As for scientific research funds, various estimates indicate that Albania allocated 0.2 %-0.4 % of GDP to research and development for 2021, which is far below the targeted 1 % of GDP by 2022 (state budget funds for the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) for research were in the
amount of 0.05 % - 0.06 % of GDP).
Albania needs to step up investments in scientific research and associated measures to strengthen research and innovation capacity at national level, also given the relevance of innovation to the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans and its direct relevance for the country’s
economic recovery, while helping address the issue of brain drain of researchers and young people.
The methodology to establish funding for research and science remains to be developed. In 2021, the National Statistical Institute of Albania conducted surveys in four sectors (private businesses, non-profit organizations, government institutions and higher education institutions) to collect
administrative data on the budget funds allocated for R&D, but data collection was unsatisfactory as both public and private entities did not report data, or values were not representative.
Efforts are still needed in the development of innovative policies aimed at promoting better links between academia, industry and government, and in the fields of open access and open data.
Both qualitative and quantitative analysis phases were completed on the development of a Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) but the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process remains to be finalised.
As regards EU framework programmes, Albania is fully associated to Horizon Europe. Its participation in the programme in 2021 has been the best ever since Albania has been participating in the EU’s Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (9 projects with a total funding of EUR 1.9 million). Private sector participation in the programme continues to remain low. A positive trend is the new national support measure facilitating academia-business cooperation. Albania should continue its efforts to raise the awareness on participation in the new Horizon Europe programme.
On integration into the European Research Area, Albania should improve its linkage with European partners to engage in international cooperative research. There is already active engagement in European Cooperation in Science and Technology with impressive increases over the past two years. However, we are still to see the results of Albania’s recent participation in EUREKA.

Albania needs to continue to make further efforts to produce statistics and reliable data on science and technology, including the indicator on gross domestic expenditure on Research and Innovation. Its inclusion in the European Innovation Scoreboard (in 2022 for the first time) is already a tangible outcome of these efforts.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina has some level of preparation in the area of science and research. Limited progress was made, notably by finalising the country’s association to Horizon Europe. The country’s research capacities remain very limited. Last year’s recommendations remain valid.
In the coming year, Bosnia and Herzegovina should in particular:
→ develop a new 2022-2028 strategy and action plan for scientific development;
→ develop and adopt a smart specialisation strategy;
→ adopt the roadmap for research infrastructure.

On research and innovation policy, the legislative framework regulating science and research development remains fragmented and still needs to be improved throughout the country. No action plan was in place from 2017 till 2022. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to develop and adopt a new strategy and action plan for scientific development (2022 – 2028).
The country’s estimated total allocations for research and innovation remain below 0.3% of GDP. An increased budget, particularly in the area of innovation, is essential for the country’s economic recovery, also given its key relevance for the implementation of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. Further progress should be made to ensure reliable and comprehensive statistics on research and innovation, e.g. for the European Innovation Scoreboard and the European Research Area. The country’s research capacities remain limited, while brain drain continues – although limited due to COVID-19 outbreak, most notably in the health, medical, and IT sectors, with no systematic measures having been introduced so far to address the issue.
A Smart Specialisation Strategy has not yet been developed and adopted.
In December 2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina concluded the association to the Horizon Europe programme, with retroactive application since January 2021. The agreement entered into force in August 2022.
The government’s efforts in upgrading research and innovation policies and related activities (e.g. the Strategy for the Development of Science and the pending adoption and implementation of the related action plan) as well as grants provided to organisations for submitting proposals under Horizon Europe are delivering results. However, systemic collaboration and interaction needs to be enhanced between ‘triple helix’ actors – academia, industry and governments.
As regards international cooperation, building on its previous participation in Horizon 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina is taking part in Horizon Europe, having competitively received EUR 1.65 million in the first year. Bosnia and Herzegovina participated 113 times to 69 signed grants of of the previous Horizon 2020 programme, competitively receiving an EU contribution of EUR 8.1 million. The success rate of applications from Bosnia and
Herzegovina (15%) was above the overall Horizon 2020 success rate. The country cooperates at regional level, with the Central European Initiative, it is active in EUREKA and in COST with an increasing number of participations in its actions. Bosnia and Herzegovina became full member of EUREKA in 2021. Bosnia Herzegovina has implemented a total of 11 EUREKA collaborative projects worth of over EUR 7 million in total funding for universities and SMEs. In EUREKA Bosnia and Herzegovina is active in the areas of health, ICT, energy, food, agriculture, and forestry.
Starting with 2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina is included in the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS), enabling its participation in the European Institute of Innovation & Technology’s regional innovation scheme (EIT RIS). In the EIS, Bosnia and Herzegovina was found to be an Emerging Innovator. Over time, its performance relative to the EU has decreased, in particular in the last two years.


Kosovo is at an early stage of preparation in the area of science and research. Limited progress was made during the reporting period. Kosovo further improved its performance in European Union Framework Programmes on Research and Innovation.
Since the recommendations of the previous report were not fully addressed, Kosovo should in particular:
→ develop a strategic approach to the development, prioritisation and promotion of scientific research and innovation and ensure higher government spending on research; seek to stimulate investment from the private sector by completing a Smart Specialisation Strategy;
→ continue efforts to increase participation in the Horizon Europe programme;
→ provide statistical data on numbers of researchers, percentage of GDP spent on research and innovation, and performance related to the European Research Area priorities.

Kosovo’s research and innovation policy remains nascent. It lacks a strategic approach to develop, prioritise and promote research activities. The Ministry for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) made efforts to develop implementing instructions in line with the mentioned laws, but they are not yet implemented. The legal system envisages the connections and cooperation between the academia and private sector/businesses. However, in reality, both sectors remain distant. Kosovo established the National Science Council: its role is to contribute towards the advancement of the quality of research capacities and the internationalisation of the research and innovation system.
Work is ongoing to establish a Kosovo register of researchers and to collect statistics on research and development, including in higher education institutions. A Smart Specialisation Strategy is under development since 2019. A Current Research Information System (CRIS) is under development since 2020. It aims to ensure systematic data collection with regard to research, science and innovation, that would be used to support the research information system as evidence-base for strategic decision. The final preparations are ongoing to first pilot the system in September 2022.
The sector continues to be severely underfunded, with public research spending amounting to only 0.01% of GDP, despite a 0.7% target mandated by law. An increased budget in this area is key for the economic recovery, also given the relevance of innovation for the implementation of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans. The quality of programmes preparing postgraduates for research careers remains unsatisfactory (see 6.13 Education and culture).
There was limited progress on integration into the European Research Area with the completion of a Research Infrastructure roadmap under the guidance of the RCC.
In December 2021, Kosovo has joined the Horizon Europe as an associate member (the agreement entered into force in March 2022). There is a new National Contact Point (NCP) platform in place operating under new NCP regulation. MESTI has developed new incentives to boost the absorbtion capacities of the research entities in Kosovo, including by reimbursing the costs of each Horizon Europe application with a lump sum. A new Horizon Europe dedicated web portal provides a single entry point for all participants, including SMEs, and every information related to the Horizon Europe opportunities. In 2021 Kosovo’s performance in Horizon Europe remined limited with only two proposals receiving a total EU funding of EUR 0.2 million. First figures for 2022 indicate already a much better performance.


Montenegro has a good level of preparation in this sector. Good progress was made on each of the 2021 recommendations through continued implementation of the Smart Specialisation Strategy and by starting participation in the Horizon Europe programme.
In the coming year, Montenegro should in particular:
→ further advance implementation of the Smart Specialisation Strategy while taking steps to make the Innovation Fund fully operational;
→ strengthen structures of academia-business cooperation and further support the knowledge transfer between them;
→ increase investments in research and innovation programmes and participation in the Horizon Europe programme, ensuring that this also targets women.

On research and innovation (R&I) policy, the implementation of related strategies continued, and support for innovative projects were provided through a number of programmes, including pre-acceleration for start-ups. Montenegro adopted five pieces of by-laws in order to fully implement the legal framework for innovation. A memorandum on cooperation within the National Open Science Cloud Initiative was signed by nine Montenegrin higher education and research institutions in January 2022. Montenegro has initiated the creation of a feasibility study of a national open science repository, which will provide necessary elements to form the open science repository and join the European Open Science Cloud.
The latest available statistics from 2019 indicated that research and development (R&D) funding stood at 0.36 % of GDP in 2019 (0.50% in 2018), with an investment share of 0.12 % provided by the private sector. An increased budget in this area remains very much needed to support the country’s economic recovery, while helping address the issue of brain drain of researchers and young people.
The new Strategy for Scientific Research Activities (2022-2026), which will define instruments aimed at increasing the number of researchers, is not yet in place. The working group tasked with its development was established on 25 January 2022. One of the priorities of the future strategy will be making stronger connection between science and economy, further linking scientific research and innovation activities. Cooperation between the academic and business sectors is promoted through the implementation of programmes between the Minister of Science and Technological Development, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Economic Development in the field of innovation. A total of 13 projects supported through the EU-funded Collaborative grant scheme for innovative project ideas are on-going and should be completed by Q4 2022.
Montenegro continues to implement the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3), in line with its national legislation and the Commission’s technical recommendations, through adoption of the Operational Programme for the Implementation of the Smart Specialization Strategy 2021-2024. This covers the four S3 strategic priority areas: agriculture, energy, health and tourism. The Council for Innovation and Smart Specialisation, as the government management body for implementing and monitoring the S3 process, was established in June 2021 and held its first session in December 2021. The inter-institutional S3 working group has been established under the lead of the national S3 coordinator. Following the organizational changes in the government of Montenegro, harmonization of the structure of the Council for Innovation and Smart Specialization has been initiated in June 2022. It is established with an aim to coordinate and make use of the feedback of all relevant target groups in creating, implementing and monitoring the process of smart specialization. The changes in the institutional S3 Group are also ongoing.
Further to its establishment in June 2021, the national Innovation Fund became operational at the beginning of 2022, with 7 employees and following the adoption of its 2022 work programme. It will support the implementation of innovation policy by funding innovation activities and technological development. First calls for support schemes (vouchers) financed from national budget were launched in early 2022, with a total budget of EUR 100.000. The development of an information and communication technology (ICT) cluster has not yet been finalised. The fully equipped and operational laboratories at the innovation and entrepreneurship centre ‘Tehnopolis’ are providing support to businesses, based on innovative ideas and technologies. Following delays, the construction works on the Science and Technology Park (STP) in Podgorica are now progressing. Both the STP and Tehnopolis are directly involved in implementing certain measures and instruments defined by the S3. In March 2022, the Ministry of Economic Development and the University of Montenegro decided to establish a National Technology Transfer Office (TTO) within the STP in Podgorica. Montenegro’s status in the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) in 2021 was one of emerging innovator.
The international agreement on Montenegro’s participation in Horizon Europe was signed in December 2021. A number of institutions have already negotiated and signed grant agreements. The participation of the scientific research community in the Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) programme increased in 2021, and Montenegrin research teams participated in about 110 (still ongoing) actions during the previous year. In May 2022, COST Committee of senior officials confirmed the funding of 70 new COST actions that will officially start in the autumn of 2022. Research teams from Montenegro also participated as partners in 12 approved COST actions. The implementation of nine EUREKA projects
continued in 2021.
In November 2021, the country and the International Atomic Nuclear Agency adopted the Programme of technical cooperation 2022-2023.
The implementation of the project establishing the Southeast Europe International Institute for Sustainable technologies (SEEIIST) for hadronic cancer therapy and research in the field of biomedicine using protons and heavier ions has continued.
Podgorica was selected to participate in the EU Climate and Smart Cities mission by 2030, along with 100 cities from 27 EU Member States and as one of the 12 cities from countries associated to the Horizon Europe programme.

North Macedonia

The country has a good level of preparation in the area of science and research. Some progress was made in the research and innovations capacities in both the public and private sector as new funds for innovations were distributed to private companies; the National Road Map on Research Infrastructure was developed; and access to Horizon Europe and the European Open Science Cloud was secured. In the coming year, the country should:
→ develop measures to promote Horizon Europe and other EU financing instruments in the area;
→ ensure sufficient financing of the Innovation Fund;
→ adopt the Smart Specialisation Strategy and start developing measures for its implementation.

Some progress was made to align with European standards on research and innovation. About 50 scientific and research projects of special national interest, or for the development of laboratory resources, received some EUR 4 million of public funds. Since August 2021, the Ministry for Education and Science has been actively participating in the work of the European Open Science Cloud Governance Board. Furthermore, the Faculty of Information Technology and Computer Engineering has been accepted as a member of the European Open Science Cloud. The Fund for Innovations and Technological Development undertook an evaluation of the implementation strategy for research and innovations 2015-2020. Despite such developments, the investment in research and innovation is still low, at 0.38% of GDP. In particular, the participation by the private sector in overall research spending remains low, at 0.1 % of GDP.
The country’s performance in Horizon Europe, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, has continued to improve (reaching 14 projects with EUR 2.8 million funding in 2021). The International Agreement between the European Union and North Macedonia for its full association to Horizon Europe was signed in December 2021, with a retroactive effect as of 1 January 2021. Regarding the new European Research Area, the country’s research capacity has slightly improved, thanks to a public investment of about EUR 3.6 million. However, the research capacity, compared with the EU average, remains weak. The country signed a new agreement for cooperation in the field of education, science and technological development with China, bringing the total number of international agreements in this area to 27, out of which 11 are signed with EU Member States. However, funds and the scope of cooperation remain modest. The national roadmap on research infrastructure needs was finalised with support from the Regional Cooperation Centre.

On innovation, the European Innovation Scoreboard classifies North Macedonia as an ‘emerging innovator’ with improved performance, according to EU standards. Since its establishment in 2014, the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development has invested more than EUR 80 million public funds in about 800 companies to stimulate innovations and adoption of new technologies.
The preparation for the Smart Specialisation Strategy has reached the final phase – the entrepreneurial discovery process and should then be adopted and implemented.


Serbia is at a good level of preparation in the area of science and research. Some progress was made with the adoption of the new strategy for development of start-up ecosystem for the period 2021-2025 with an action plan as well as the new law on innovation activity. The national level of investment in research remains low.
In the coming year, Serbia should in particular:
→ increase the national funding for research and innovation;
→ enact the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) Regulation into national law;
→ follow up on the actions of the new European Research Area.

On research and innovation policy, the main priorities of the European Research Area are incorporated in the new strategy for development of start-up ecosystem 2021-2025, adopted in December 2021 with an action plan until end of 2022. The strategy aims to create a systematic approach to the development of knowledge and skills of entrepreneurship through formal education, increasing number of start-ups and opportunities for private investors, technology transfer and economic growth. A new Law on innovation activity was adopted in December 2021, expanding the innovation fund mandate to invest in companies, alternative investment funds and other organisations to develop innovation and to keep the register of the national innovation system.
The Science Fund is fully operational as a funding mechanism and developing new programmes for financing R&D ideas.
Although it is higher than the last year, the national level of investment in research remains low at 0.91 % of GDP (0.89 % in 2020) with only one third of this amount coming from the private sector. Serbia should continue to integrate with the new European Research Area, in accordance with its plan to increase investment into research and innovation by 50 % in the next five years, also given the relevance of innovation to the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.
Regarding the EU framework programme and international cooperation, Serbia joined Horizon Europe. Serbia continues to be active and participate successfully in Horizon Europe as well as in EUREKA and COST.
With regard to measures for the Innovation Union, the Serbian Innovation Fund and the science and technology parks in Belgrade, Niš, Čačak and Novi Sad (from December 2021), continue to be active with increased contributions from the budget. The Innovation Fund launched a new mechanism to support technological development and innovation – Katapult Accelerator for start-ups in the early stages of product development and market positioning and companies with proven market traction aiming to accelerate their growth and raise additional financial resources.
Serbia is an emerging innovator in the European innovation scoreboard. However, research and innovation expenditures of the private business sector remain too low. More efforts are needed on the public side to support cooperation between businesses and academia.

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

Entry created by Elke Dall on October 16, 2022
Modified on October 16, 2022