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The Western Balkans consists of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro , Kosovo * and Serbia. All have a perspective to accede to the European Union and hence are also called 'enlargement countries'. When Croatia becomes a Member State (in principle on 1 July 2013), information on Croatia will no longer be provided under Western Balkans, except for some on-going regional initiatives.

*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


Croatia: in preparation for EU membership, Croatia has actively considered actions aiming at strengthening its research and innovation capacity, in particular it has looked at ways to better commercialise the research results through innovation programmes and support actions governed by BICRO (Croatia Innovation Agency).

Montenegro: on 18 December 2012 the Council opened and provisionally closed the accession negotiations with Montenegro on research and innovation policy. This means that Montenegro was considered to have the capacity to take and implement actions in line with EU research and innovation policy. Further efforts are, however, required and will be closely monitored by the EU. In particular, Montenegro should take actions to increase the level of investment in research which, in 2011, was established at 0, 43% of GDP by Monstat.


Policy Dialogue

The integration of the Western Balkan countries (WBCs) into the European Union (EU) is a major political and economic project designed to assure stability and development in the region. From the very beginning, cooperation on research and innovation has been stimulated as a tool to facilitate integration into the European Union. At the Council meeting in June 1993 under the Greek Presidency, Ministers adopted "The Thessaloniki agenda for the Western Balkans: Moving towards European Integration" which included an Action Plan in Science and Technology aiming at contributing to the reinforcement of the S&T capacities of each country and of the region as a whole. To raise the EU's political commitment towards the Balkans, a Steering Platform on Research was launched in June 2006 by the European Commission together with the Austrian Presidency. The Platform brings stakeholders from the Balkan Region and international donors aiming at creating more synergy between the many actions and instruments in support of re-building the S&T capacity in the region post war ( see speech  PDF icon 265 KB ).

On 15 September 2011, at a meeting with all the Ministers responsible for Science from the Western Balkans, Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn reiterated the importance of engaging in cooperation on research and innovation with all enlargement countries and encouraged all the Ministers to closely follow the actions taken at EU level on Research and Innovation. She also encouraged them to continue their endeavors to raise the political profile of research and innovation at national level.
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All WBCs except Kosovo are associated to FP7. Kosovo can participate in FP7 as a third country with International Cooperation Country Partner (ICPC) status.

On 10 April 2013 a meeting took place in Vienna to discuss the possibility of association to the next EU Framework Programme on Research and Innovation 'Horizon 2020' for the period 2014-2020. All enlargement countries underlined the importance of continuing to be associated to the EU's research programme as a way to integrate in the EU and strengthen their scientific base. In principle, subject to the specific terms and conditions of such association and satisfactory outcome of the internal decision-making, all Western Balkans, including this time Kosovo, expressed interest in being associated to Horizon 2020.



A WBC.INCO-NET which is funded under the International cooperation Programme of FP7 brings together stakeholders from all the Western Balkan countries and provides networking opportunities, scientific analysis and mapping of Western Balkan research capacities and needs. All of which is aimed at strengthening the research capacity in the Region with all interested stakeholders and other international donors such as the Regional cooperation Council, the World Bank or the Central European Initiative (CEI). In particular the WBC.INCO-NET website is a very valuable source of information on the different actions, events and analytical studies on the region, including an e-Journal. This project will end in December 2013.

Funding has also been provided under the International cooperation Programme of FP7 to the SEE-ERA.NET PLUS project, which allows to engage in Joint European Research projects. This project has been instrumental in deepening research collaboration among research entities from the Balkan region on topics of common interest.

Besides FP7 International cooperation projects, the Western Balkans have been very successful in participating in collaborative research projects and support actions of a more structured nature notably in in the areas of food safety and ICT (see, for example, food cluster).




DG Research and Innovation

Policy Officer - R&I Relations with Western Balkans and Turkey
Unit RTD D 1 - Policy Coordination, EFTA and Enlargement countries, Russia, Asia and Pacific
Tel. +32 2 299 57141