Working breakfast on the topic Achieving Excellence through Regional Cooperation was held on 24th November in Belgrade, gathering members of the Think for Europe Network (TEN) as well as distinguished experts from the Regional Environmental Center (REC) and the Center of Excellence in Finance (CEF). Participants discussed the added value of pursuing a regional approach and shared their experiences in regional networking. The aim of the event was to formulate new ideas for inspiring creation of a more constructive regional initiatives in the Western Balkans region. Additionally, the event served as an opportunity to present the first Position Paper of the newly created Centre for Excellence in Policymaking (CEPS WeB), established by six think-tank organisations from the Western Balkans, members of TEN. The discussion was moderated by Simonida Kacarska, Research Coordinator at the European Policy Institute (EPI).
Representing the Center of Excellence in Finance, prof. dr Mojmir Mrak explained the success of CEF and gave insight into the challenges of its 15-year-long functioning. He emphasised that the CEF is a knowledge hub for the South Eastern Europe region. Additional regional learning opportunities were exemplified by Igor Kostić, who represented the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe. He pointed out the fact that the regional approach could significantly contribute to the capacity development in the Western Balkan countries, as all countries have the same environmental problems.
Senior Researcher at CEP Sena Marić presented the CEPS WeB Position Paper, making a case for taking up regional approach in tackling and advocating for more evidence-based policymaking in the Western Balkans. She talked about the effect as well as the unused potential of the civil society organisations in pressuring for improved policymaking in the Western Balkan countries. She also added that legalistic administrative cultures in the Western Balkans are in need for more evidence to create better policymaking environments, while governments need to provide more data in order to enable quality policymaking and civil society monitoring.
This event was carried out in the framework of the project Centre of Expertise on Policymaking Systems in the Western Balkans-CEPS WeB, implemented by six partner organisations – TEN members: European Policy Centre – Belgrade,Institute Alternativa – Podgorica, European Policy Institute – Skopje, Foreign Policy Initiative – Sarajevo, Institute for Democracy and Mediation – Tirana, and Group for Legal and Political Studies – Pristina. The project is financed under the framework of the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP). The programme is fully funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).