Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said:
We need to think about how research and innovation policies can unfold their potential and bring added valued to all our citizens. The Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport will advance the most desirable shared future in this region and we are already delivering on one of its objectives with this foresight study.
The study’s scenarios are rooted in an extensive co-creation process with more than 700 experts on R&I from the Western Balkans, who represent academia, civil society, the private sector, international organisations as well as central and subnational governments. The scenarios help to envision different futures and highlight possible actions that can be taken today in the Western Balkans to work towards the most sustainable future:
Joining the Common Market: outlines a potential future in which the latest EU Members Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia benefit from a range of European Framework Programmes and tailored support initiatives such as the European Commission’s Green Deal Just Transition Mechanism.
Looking beyond EU borders: constitutes a scenario in which EU accession negotiations have come to a standstill.
Putting Business First: depicts a scenario in which economic modernisation and public sector innovation are supported by EU institutions as well as by the European Investment Bank.
The study concludes with initial roadmaps tailored for each of the Western Balkans that can inspire decicion-makers with goals and actions needed to further develop their R&I systems.
On the 6 October, at the EU-Western Balkans Brdo Summit, the leaders of the European Union and its Member States, together with Western Balkans leaders launched the ‘Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport’, a comprehensive, long-term cooperation strategy of the European Union and the Western Balkans. With this, they jointly commit to a strategy that will stimulate cooperation with the Western Balkans, creating new opportunities for students, researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to boost their skills and to access new markets. Through increased investments, it will also support sustainable socio-economic development in the region, raise its competitiveness and help make societies greener, healthier and more digital.