Ministerial Meeting of the Western Balkans Platforms on Culture & Research and Innovation & Education and Training

27 - 28 June 2022

Background information

This year we celebrate the 19th anniversary of the Thessaloniki Western Balkans Summit of 21 June 2003, which laid the foundations for relations between the European Union and the economies of the Western Balkans. The joint Declaration adopted at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 welcomed, among other things, the endorsement of the Thessaloniki agenda for the Western Balkans.

Since these days, the policies across the region have been consolidated in favour of integration into the European Union. Numerous challenges still remain, such the need to strengthen institutional capacities, to overcome fragmented regional cooperation, to address climate-related challenges etc.

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 and the war in Ukraine which is hitting societies and economies across Europe. 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 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, as well as the newly launched one on Culture, play a central role in stimulating, monitoring and supporting the cooperation in research, innovation, education and cultural and creative policies and programmes between the European Union Member States, the European Commission and the Western. The annual Platforms’ Ministerial meetings allow identifying common priorities, discussing latest policy and reform measures, deciding on spin-off activities and follow-up measures as well as on topics for regional cooperation with EU assistance.


2022 marks the 16th anniversary of the establishment of the Western Balkans Steering Platform on Research and Innovation. It now meets annually at Ministerial level and aims at supporting the enhanced integration of the Western Balkans 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 forum 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, the Commission launched in 2011 the Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training which had its first Ministerial meeting 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.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training, a Western Balkan Platform on Culture will be officially launched on 27 June 2022 during the Ministerial event. The establishment of this additional Platform will foster cultural cooperation and policy dialogue and will help unlock the potential of culture and creativity for sustainable social and economic development in the Western Balkans region.


This year, once again, the joint Ministerial Meeting of the Western Balkans Platforms brings together key stakeholders from the European Union and the Western Balkan region in an exchange forum. At this meeting, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and the relevant Western Balkans’ Ministers will discuss the Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, the concrete impacts already delivered across the region and policy issues of common concern.

Participation is upon invitation only

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