The Western Balkans consists of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo * and Serbia. All have a perspective to accede to the European Union and hence are also called 'enlargement countries'.
*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
A European Council meeting in 2003 adopted the 'Thessaloniki agenda for the Western Balkans: Moving towards European Integration'.
The EU's enlargement policy (COM(2015)611: EU Enlargement Strategy, COM(2016)715: 2016 Communication on EU Enlargement Policy) underlines the necessity to invest in peace, security and stability. It stresses that an accession process offering a credible prospect of EU membership is vital to enhance the resilience of countries in the Western Balkans (EEAS Global Strategy: 'Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe, A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy', 06/2016) and to spur transformation in these countries.
As of 2016 the innovation dimension was added to the structural reform agenda of the national Economic Reform Programmes (N.B. As of 2015, all candidate countries and potential candidates submit annual Economic Reform Programmes (ERPs) that mimic the European Semester process). These programmes contain a structural reform agenda to boost competitiveness and improve conditions for growth and job creation.
In 2021, The European Union developed with the Western Balkans a forward-looking Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.
Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sports
This agenda outlines a comprehensive, long-term strategy for cooperation with the Western Balkans.
Through increased investment, the agenda and its proposed actions will contribute to developing the region’s economic and societal development.
The EU supports stronger cooperation between the Western Balkans’ stakeholders and EU countries to successfully implement the deliverables of the agenda.
The agenda and its action plan is built on 3 main pillars: Political, Thematic, and Regional.
Towards a sustainable future by stimulating an economy that supports the recovery and helps to create jobs
Towards closer alignment with the EU strategic priorities
Towards a closer regional economic integration through planned investments in human capital development and digital transformation
Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion available over 7 years (2021 to 2027).
Projects and results
Blue Growth in the Adriatic-Ionian Region
The results of the BLUEAIR project will be felt most concretely by people on the shores of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas in better coordination of marine surveillance and more careful management of marine ecosystems, but also in crucial matters such as forecasted increasing high-sea levels.
Research project database (CORDIS)
EU-funded projects involving the Western Balkans
Project success stories
Stories of particularly successful EU-funded research projects.
National Contact Points
The National Contact Points (NCPs) provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon Europe.
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Progress in the implementation of the Western Balkans Agenda
The Western Balkans Steering Platforms on Research and Innovation and Education and Training met in Skopje, North Macedonia on 15-16 February 2023
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Five Western Balkan partners join Horizon Europe research and innovation programme
Research and innovation - News alert
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Achieving a coherent innovation policy in the Adriatic-Ionian Region
A strategic network of key actors in the innovation community are brought together in the BLUEAIR project