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Western Balkans Process – 4th Joint Science Conference

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Conference of the national stakeholders of the education and science systems in the framework of the Western Balkans Process

Date: Wednesday, 30. May to Friday, 1. June 2018
Time: 17:00 to 14:00
Location: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei – Palazzo Corsini, Via della Lungara 10, 00165 Rome, Italy

Convergence, cohesion and cooperation in South East Europe are complex processes, which demand collaborative action from education, science, politics, civil society and economy. The path is the goal: European integration of the Western Balkans and strengthening of South East Europe.

The 4th Joint Science Conference of the Berlin Process was organised jointly by the Leopoldina, the Italian Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and the Italian National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), with the kind support of the German Embassy in Rome and the German Federal Foreign Office as well the UK Embassy in Rome and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The UK holds the presidency of the Berlin Process in 2018. This year Poland joined the Process.

The conference brought together around 80 top representatives of national academies of sciences and arts, rectors’ conferences, research organisations, transfer- and innovation facilities and distinguished scientists and science managers invited ad personam  from the 14 Berlin Process countries. The programme featured a keynote by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, and a meeting with the Rome-based embassies of the involved countries.

The conference prepared formal recommendations to the Heads of State and Government, who convened at the Western Balkans Summit in London on 10 July 2018. These were summarised in a Joint Statement entitled “The Path is the Goal: Convergence, Cohesion and Cooperation in South East Europe”. The final documents of the London Summit welcomed the recommendations and acknowledged their importance.

The work of the conference focused on three topics:

1. Smart Growth
Participants developed recommendations on how to generate smart growth in South East Europe, accompanied by proposed lines of action summarised in a “Western Balkans Action Plan for Smart Growth” (as an addendum to the Joint Statement). “Smart growth” stands for economic growth and societal prosperity based on education, research and innovation. It embraces elements, such as the creation of innovation ecosystems, facilitation of knowledge and technology transfer, and the reduction of the skills gap between the qualifications of graduates and the real demand from the national economies and labour markets. The Joint Statement emphasises the strategic importance of the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) , developed by the European Commission, as a potential umbrella for all activities fostering smart growth.

2. Convergence and Cohesion
The conference also formulated recommendations for the acceleration of convergence between the South East European countries and the EU. Convergence is understood as a multifaceted process of harmonisation and “catching-up” between the enlargement countries and the EU, respectively within the EU itself. Participants shared a comprehensive view on convergence, treating it not only from economic perspective, but also as social, welfare, institutional and scientific convergence. Additionally, the conference discussed the need for cohesion instruments based on the solidarity principle as a core European value and policy instrument. This applies to the strengthening of the classic elements of cohesion – economic, social and territorial cohesion – and to scientific cohesion in the EU and enlargement countries. The Joint Statement includes fundamental considerations on shaping the convergence processes in different fields. Further, it strongly advocates the need for a European Scientific Cohesion Policy as well as for consistent and progressive cross-sectoral action for convergence in the other policy sectors.

3. Cooperation
Prosperity, stability and a knowledge-based development in South East Europe are at risk without a good relationship between former conflict parties and without good neighbourly inter-state relations. Dealing with the past aiming at shaping a better, more positive European future is a lengthy process, requiring endurance and ownership. The conference discussed ways for sustainable and institutionalised mechanisms for inter-societal rapprochement and reconciliation. The Joint Statement outlines major lines of action for the rapprochement and reconciliation process based on education and science, and the involvement of the young generation. These topics shall be discussed further at the 5th Joint Science Conference of the Berlin Process, which will be held at The Royal Society in London, in June 2019.

Joint Statement

Joint Statement

Language Versions will be published soon.

London Western Balkans Summit

Contact

Lucian Brujan
Speaker of the Western Balkans Process – Joint Science Conference
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

phone: +49 345 47 239 836
fax: +49 345 47 239 839
email: Lucian.Brujan@leopoldina.org

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