Countries in the Western Balkans now have a strong network of EU National Contact Points (NCPs) and needed know-how to participate in EU-funded projects.
As Western Balkan Countries (WBCs) such as Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) inch closer to EU integration, it is important to support initiatives that facilitate their path. The EU-funded project 'Opening up the European Research Area to the Western Balkan' (ERA Westbalkan) helped the region's countries participate in EU-funded programmes.
ERA Westbalkan established or strengthened existing EU NCPs in these countries, either in conjunction with government ministries or through academic channels. It then organised several training workshops for the new NCPs covering topics such as proposal preparation, project management, financial issues, partner networking, legal considerations and more.
as a result, the NCPs made great progress in building a solid network of stakeholders in the region and played a key role in encouraging participation in EU-funded projects. To illustrate, project participation increased by 500 % in FYROM and 250 % in Serbia.
ERA Westbalkan also organised 20 national information workshops in the different countries concerned for further training on project participation and to raise awareness regarding EU projects. This led to upgrading the quantity and quality of project proposals, creating greater ties with the European Research Area (ERA).
project partners produced an interactive CD-Rom on research and development (R&D) in each WBC, plus contact details of key players and stakeholders. In effect, the NCPs excelled as important service providers for their research communities in each country and helped raise the bar in relation to EU-funded project participation. Today, thanks to these initiatives, the region has become much more integrated into the ERA.