Ensuring a Smooth Policy Dialogue

POLICY ANSWERS is responsible for managing the Secretariat of the Western Balkans Steering Platforms. These platforms are strategic bodies that deal with European, multilateral, and regional issues related to research, innovation, education, and cultural policies in and with the Western Balkans. They also serve as an information exchange forum where the latest developments in a given field are presented, discussed, and best practices are shared.

So far, the project has supported both the Steering Platform (SP) and Ministerial meetings in terms of content and logistics. This support includes the preparatory phase, implementation, and follow-up of all organised events. Additionally, the project provided communication and dissemination activities through the WB Info Hub, as one important aspect of the Steering Platforms is the dissemination of their meetings´ outcomes, such as the endorsed conclusions, and of the achievements of the Western Balkans communities to European stakeholders to raise awareness on existing potentials and opportunities.

Ministerial Meetings

Over the years, the Ministerial Meetings of the Western Balkans Steering Platforms proved to be a suitable format for political cooperation and exchange up to the highest level. In 2022, a Ministerial Meeting was organised in Tirana (Albania) on 27-28 June 2022 by POLICY ANSWERS in consultation with the EC and in cooperation with another EC contractor, Cecoforma. You can read our event review on the WB Info Hub.

The meeting was held jointly between DG R&I and DG EAC to encompass the fields of Research & Innovation, Education & Training and Culture. The first Ministerial Platform on Culture also jointly took place as one of the deliverables of the Innovation Agenda, while the RCC and JRC held respectively the ceremony of their Butterfly Innovation Awards and a high-level event for the launch of the Science for Policy report “Status of Environment and Climate in the Western Balkans”.

The Ministerial attracted around 130 participants, including all Ministers of Education, Research and Culture from the Western Balkans, and high-level experts in these fields (around 70 people). The EC was represented by Commissioner Gabriel and senior officials from the DGs EAC, DG R&I and JRC, as well as representatives from the EU delegations. In addition, EU experts and representatives from international organisations working in the region were invited. The French Council Presidency co-chaired the Ministerial Meeting.

As mentioned in the original article published by the European Commission on 28 June 2022 and in the Conclusions of the Ministerial meeting, the event represented a key event in the joint effort to maintain the political momentum triggered by the launch of the Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport at the Brdo Summit, which took place in October 2021.

Family Photo of the Western Balkans Steering Platforms Ministerial event, 27-28 June 2022, Tirana, Albania

Family Photo of the Western Balkans Steering Platforms Ministerial event, 27-28 June 2022, Tirana, Albania

In 2023, the Ministerial event, planned in Skopje on 4-6 June, was eventually postponed due to the resignation of Ms Marija Gabriel from the College of European Commissioners. To guarantee the highest possible representation, the EC decided to wait for the nomination of a new Commissioner. Discussions about the organisation of a Ministerial event in 2024 are currently ongoing.

Steering Platform meetings

POLICY ANSWERS also support the organisation of the technical meetings of the Steering Platforms (SP). A total of 12 virtual meetings are envisaged in the 4-year of project lifespan as well as a total of four SP physical events. Knowing the fluidity of policy dialogue, the project has adapted to the latest developments and priorities, and so far organised 5 virtual meetings of the Platforms and one physical event.

It is worth mentioning the physical Joint Steering Platform Meeting as well, which was held in Skopje on 15-16 February 2023. It gathered 75 participants with some of the speakers also attending online. More details about the event can be read here and you can find the presentations here.

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