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A science and technology boost for the Balkans

The Western Balkan region is growing faster than other regions of Europe and can benefit considerably from EU support. A recent science and technology network gave much needed support to the region in this respect.
A science and technology boost for the Balkans
The Western Balkans region refers to Albania and the former Yugoslav nations with the exception of Slovenia and is an emerging region in terms of industry, research and development. This is an important part of the European continent that holds promising growth potential, and the EU has undertaken many steps to raise competitiveness in the Western Balkans.

The EU-funded project 'Analytical support assistance for the monitoring committee for Westbalkan countries' (ASA-MOCO-WB) represented a network implemented in 2006 to support the region. In particular, it oversaw science and technology (S&T) dialogue between the EU and the Western Balkans. The project was also established to monitor cooperation progress between the EU and the region with respect to S&T and related foreign policies.

ASA-MOCO-WB helped set up a web-based content management system comprising S&T documents relevant for policy dialogue, a contact database, supporting analyses and S&T country reports for Western Balkan countries. This also included studies on urgent issues regarding policy dialogue and areas of improvement in research and technological development (RTD) relations. Moreover, a quarterly electronic news journal offered regular updates on the progress of the Steering Platform and relevant S&T issues.

In short, the project represented a one-stop shop in terms of S&T for the European Commission and Western Balkan members. This was strongly supported by the Austrian presidency of the EU at that time and other notable Austrian institutions. Among these were the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). Both organisations have extensive experience in international S&T policy analysis and policy delivery. Their support, along with the project's initiative, has been invaluable to strengthening S&T in Western Balkan countries.

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