European Fund for the Balkans

European Fund for the Balkans

The European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) is a joint initiative by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the ERSTE Foundation and the King Baudouin Foundation that supports countries from the Western Balkans in the EU association process. The initiative aims at strengthening democracy, fostering European integration and developing a strategy to address Europe’s emerging challenges.

The fund follows the recommendations made by the International Commission on the Balkans initiated by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. It had stated that the development of functioning government agencies must be supported and that a pro-European public is an important requirement for the integration of the region into the European Union. As a neutral platform for innovations, the fund has been supporting this process.

The fund’s strategy, which was renewed in the course of 2015, is organized around three program areas: “Capacity Development”, “Policy Development” and “Regional Cooperation”. “Capacity Development” concentrates on strengthening democracy in order to meet the conditions of accession to the EU. The second area, “Policy Development”, focuses on enabling democratic institutions and civil society organization to give effective policy recommendations. The development of a culture of regional cooperation based on common social values is the goal of the third area, “Regional Cooperation”. The strategy is channeled via flagship programs and smaller initiatives:

The „Fellowship Program for Young Government Officials“ is the key program of the fund`s pillar “Capacity Development”. Every year 20 young employees and of national ministries take part in a three-month fellowship program, which entails a working placement in a national ministry in an EU-country of their choice. Since 2008, already 135 young employees of the Western Balkan have participated in the program.

The “Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group” (BiEPAG) is comprised of think tanks and academic institutions from the EU and the Western Balkan countries, which work together to develop and publicly present recommendations for political decision-makers.

“Think and Link” provides means and methodological trainings for local think tanks, NGOs and other institutes to strengthen their capacity and to enhance regional co-operation and networking. Since the establishment of the program in 2008, more than 50 organizations have participated in the program.

Apart from these big programs, the fund also works with initiatives that aim at the involvement of the public by the use of mass media (e.g. the TV debate “Balkans in Europe” or the talk show “Vicinities”).

The fund is active in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Its office is located in Belgrade. The Robert Bosch Stiftung established the EFB in 2007 together with the ERSTE Foundation, the King Baudouin Foundation and the Compagnia di San Paolo.