POLICY ANSWERS: R&I Policy making, implementation and Support in the Western Balkans

Fostering the stability and prosperity of the Western Balkans remains a key priority for the EU, especially taking into account the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has being hitting the Western Balkans societies and economies hard. As outlined in the European Commission´s priorities, green transition, digital transformation and an economy that works for people are crucial for relaunching and modernising 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 policy-making.

In such a context, the EU project entitled POLICY ANSWERS - R&I POLICY making, implementation ANd Support in the WEsteRn BalkanS was launched on 1 March 2022 for a period of four years.

This new initiative is funded under the Horizon Europe call “Support for R&I policy making in the Western Balkans" (HORIZON-WIDERA-2021-ACCESS-06-01) and it is positioned well in line with the EU’s Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (WB Innovation Agenda), outlining a comprehensive, long-term strategy for cooperation with the region, including an Action Plan for its implementation. Through increased investments, its elements and measures will contribute to the economic and societal development and cooperation in and with the region.

POLICY ANSWERS focuses on the research and innovation (R&I) policy and governance systems, while also covering the aspects of education, culture, youth and sports. In the next four years, the project will monitor and support policy coordination within the EU-WB cooperation and will support the Western Balkans in strengthening their potential for successful participation in regional and multilateral research and innovation activities, to promote regional cooperation in R&I and to support networking and access to information and excellence.

POLICY ANSWERS addresses these objectives through targeted project activities: 

  • Organising policy dialogue events (i.e. Ministerial and Steering Platform meetings; ad-hoc policy coordination meetings), offering room for exchange about policy implementation;
  • Carrying out analytical activities such as mapping of relevant institutions, programmes, initiatives, needs and common priorities in the WB; monitoring ongoing activities at different levels related to the implementation of the WB Agenda and progress made related to ERA integration; providing strategic informed recommendations for policy making and agenda setting;
  • Providing and coordinating capacity building and pilot actions in the WB to contribute to the region’s EU integration process and to strengthen their innovation ecosystems;
  • Designing informed policy recommendations to decision makers in the region in the areas of R&I, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport in addressing the EU’s key priorities such as digitalization, green economy and health and aligning them;
  • Implementing regional pilot activities, which reach out directly to academia, industry and civil society; creating new initiatives and initiating success stories at programme level;
  • Supplying an information hub and web platform addressing R&I, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport in the WB to enable better information sharing, create opportunities for joint actions and bring up the WB to EU policy making.

All these activities are implemented by a variety of stakeholders from and beyond the WB region and in close liaison with the European Commission (EC), the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and other stakeholders invited in a Project Advisory Board (PAB), as well as associated partners.

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To learn more on POLICY ANSWER and its activities, please visit regularly the present page. You can also reach the project coordination team by writing to policy-answers@westernbalkans-infohub.eu.

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