Western Balkan Countries

The integration of the Western Balkan Countries (WBC) into the European Research Area (ERA) and the promotion of interregional research cooperation as a contribution towards the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) are of central importance for the research policy of both the region and the European Union.

View on a city

© Ralf Hanatschek / DLR

Funding opportunities

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports the cooperation of German institutions with partners in Western Balkan Countries through a variety of funding measures ( see current announcements).

Please get in touch if you have additional questions about the support services provided by the International Bureau.

Political framework

The Western Balkan Countries include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia are EU membership candidates, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegoviva are potential membership candidates.

Under the Austrian Presidency of the European Council, the 'Steering Platform on Research and Innovation for Western Balkan Countries' was established in 2006. Since then it has played an important role in strengthening the political science and technology dialogue between the European Commission, EU Member States / Associated Countries on the one hand, and the Western Balkan countries on the other hand. The platform continues to meet annually.

Priorities of the cooperation

The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is a reliable partner for German research, development and innovation (RDI) institutions cooperating with partners in the WBC. It is involved in a number of European measures strengthening RDI in the region:

SEE-ERA.NET

Improving integration of the Western Balkan Countries in the European Research Area (ERA) was the aim of the EU-funded network project SOUTHEAST-EUROPEAN ERA-NET (SEE-ERA.Net). By linking the activities of Germany and its 13 partner countries within the framework of existing national, bilateral and regional research programmes with a special focus on South Eastern Europe, it was possible to define important milestones, such as a joint pilot call for proposals for network and research projects. Another milestone was a 'White Paper' that defined the political strategies and recommendations for the future cooperation with the Western Balkan countries. Tthis EU project also supported the integration of Bulgaria and Romania into cross-regional R&D cooperation with the Western Balkan Countries. All of the WBC participated in SEE-ERA.NET. The project ran for a period of five years and ended in August 2009.

SEE-ERA.NET PLUS

The central goal of the successor project SOUTHEAST-EUROPEAN ERA-NET PLUS (SEE-ERA.NET PLUS) was to issue a joint call for proposals for 'Joint European Research Projects'. Building on the experiences and results of the SEE-ERA.NET project, the aim was to drive the further integration of the South Eastern European countries, in particular the countries of the Western Balkans, into the European Research Area (ERA). The joint call for proposals was published on 1 September 2009. In addition to Germany, other countries participating in the call for proposals included Albania, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatioa, France, Germany, Greece, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. A total of 23 transnational research projects with a budget of around EUR 2.8 million were supported based on the joint funding. The project ended in July 2013.

WBC-INCO.NET

The WBC-INCO.NET was a European network project fostering bi-regional research policy dialogue between the EU, states associated to the EU's 7th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and the Western Balkan countries. It supported the 'Steering Platform on Research for the Western Balkan Countries'. The aim was to improve the participation of researchers in the target region in European R&D projects. The consortium of WBC.INCO.NET comprised 29 partners from 16 countries, including the ministries of research of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Croatia, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Austria, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. Numerous research institutions and agencies also participated. The project got underway in January 2008 and was successfully concluded in April 2014.