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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
News article29 June 2022Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Western Balkans Ministerials: progress and outcome in the fields of culture, research, education, and training

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On 27-28 June, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel represented the Commission at the Ministerial Meeting of the Western Balkans' Platforms on Culture, Research and Innovation, and Education and Training, which took place in Tirana, Albania. Commissioner Gabriel said: "I am glad to announce the launch of the Western Balkans Ministerial Platform on Culture. It will further strengthen cooperation between the EU and the region and contribute to its integration into the EU. Today, I also launch a new Enhanced Partnership with the Western Balkans under the Erasmus+ programme. This Partnership will give education organisations and institutions in the Western Balkans not associated to the programme the possibility to take part in important strategic actions starting with the European Universities initiative as of 2023, on equal footing with organisations from EU Member States and third countries associated to the programme.” During the meetings, Commissioner Gabriel exchanged with culture ministers of the region about the role of youth in the promotion and protection of cultural heritage, which plays an important role in our societies, our communities and in international relations. The Commissioner also announced that the Western Balkans Agenda triggered an additional €150 million of funding for innovation for the next four years. The forthcoming European Innovation Agenda will further contribute to nurturing a supportive environment for industry-academia cooperation and start-ups. Lastly, the Commissioner also presented the Joint Research Centre report on the Status of Environment and Climate in the Western Balkans. One of the outcome highlights that air quality in the Western Balkans is still critically poor. The Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, launched in October 2021 at the Brdo EU Summit and announced in the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which the Commission presented in October 2020 with a substantial investment package mobilising up to nine billion euros of funding for the region. It follows the launch of the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans in June 2018, which aims to support the transition of the region into a digital economy and bring faster economic growth, more jobs and better services. For more information on the various elements, please consult the press release and the factsheet. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke — Tel.: + 32 229 58615; Sonya Gospodinova – Tel.: +32 229 66953; Célia Dejond – Tel.: +32 229 88199)

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