Have you ever wondered how individuals and organisations from the Western Balkan countries can get closer to the European Union? So have we, and together with three leading European foundations we have given a contribution by setting up the European Fund for the Balkans.
All countries willing to join the European Union must undergo significant reforms and comply with an abundance of legal regulations. This is a time consuming process requiring not only improvement within a government’s administration but mindsets of the entire nations. And yet, researches continue to show scepticism among ordinary people who believe that the benefit of the accession will only be felt by those who are already well off.
In order to encourage the EU integration processes in South Eastern Europe, four European foundations – ERSTE Foundation, Compagnia di San Paolo, King Baudouin Foundation and Robert Bosch Stiftung – have set up the European Fund for the Balkans, designed to undertake and support initiatives aimed at bringing the Western Balkans closer to the European Union through grant-giving and operational programmes.
Whether you are an individual or you work in an organisation, the Fund can support your efforts to contribute to the European integration processes of the Balkans. There are many agendas of many stakeholders in these processes that can decelerate reforms and for that reason an integrated approach is needed, with a number of strategies and plans but also debates and awareness campaigns to inform wide population of the benefits that joining the European Union can bring. This is what the European Fund for the Balkans does.
Envisaging Europe through ‘Think and Link’ initiative works with regional research projects to promote inclusive and evidence based policy making. 12 think tanks are supported each year and, this way, the emerging policy institutes from the Balkans are linked with EU-based think tanks.
Practising Europe enhances the professional and administrative capacities of young Balkan government officials in the EU integration process. The annual programme recruits 20 highly qualified young civil servants who get a fellowship to spend three months in a EU country.
Experiencing Europe assists youth in the Western Balkans to experience and gain knowledge about the European Union. For too long, the politics of their countries have caused them to live in a ghetto-like atmosphere. This strand of the Fund encourages the youth to be more active and to link up with their peers across Europe, and globally, and to find issues that connect them.
Developing Policies for the Balkans is the Fund’s contribution to policy making in support of the integration of the Balkans within the EU. The Gallup Balkan Monitor initiative, for example, conducts researches which offer insight into people’s perceptions of different issues, and that can therefore help the leaders shape their policies.