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Western Balkans Summit, London, 10th July 2018

Western Balkans Summit, London, 10th July 2018

On 10 July 2018 the UK hosted the Western Balkans Summit in London, the fifth summit convened under the Berlin Process.

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May hosted the Western Balkans Summit in London on 10 July, demonstrating the longstanding commitment to the region and to European security. Heads of Government of the Western Balkans 6, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, attended the Summit, and also representatives of Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Slovenia, as well as Bulgaria and Greece and the EU institutions.

The Summit was the fifth to take place under the Berlin Process after Berlin (2014), Vienna (2015), Paris (2016) and Trieste (2017). The Berlin Process is a diplomatic initiative that Chancellor Merkel launched in 2014. Each year it brings together the 6 Western Balkans countries, like-minded EU partners and representatives of the EU institutions to work together to support security, stability and prosperity in the region.

The summit focused on 3 areas:

  • increasing economic stability with a view to improving the business environment, encouraging entrepreneurship, addressing youth unemployment, and promoting regional inter-connectivity
  • strengthening regional security co-operation to help tackle common threats, including corruption, serious and organised crime, trafficking of people, drugs and firearms, terrorism and violent extremism
  • facilitating political co-operation – to help the region resolve bilateral disputes and overcome legacy issues stemming from the conflicts of the 1990s and strengthen democracy

All Berlin Process participants agreed that, to prosper in the future, they needed to continue to deal with the legacy of the past. All 14 Berlin Process participants signed the joint declaration on regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in the framework of the Berlin Process. They looked forward to future annual reports from governments of the Western Balkans on further progress.

Berlin Process participants also signed the joint declarations on war crimes and on missing persons. They welcomed the progress made towards the development of the regional framework plan to address the issue of missing persons from the conflicts on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. All participants looked forward to its early adoption and implementation.

The Chairs conclusions can be found here.

Joint declarations can be found here.

Conference “The Future Of Vocational Education And Training In Europe“, Vienna, 9th And 10th July 2018

Conference “The Future of Vocational Education and Training in Europe“, Vienna, 9th and 10th July 2018

On 9th-10th of July the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union organised a VET expert conference: “The Future of Vocational Education and Training in Europe“. The conference aimed to initiate expert level discourse, focussing on current and future challenges presented to European VET systems. It brought together European stakeholders, officials and experts in the field of VET to discuss a joint vision of VET in Europe post 2020 in light of impacting factors and to identify the required policy responses at the national and the European level. The Conference was attended by Director of the ERI SEE Secretariat Ms Tina Šarić as well as by many experts in the field of VET from the region.

Regional Conference  “New Dynamics Of Technical And Vocational Education In The Western Balkans”, Berlin, 02 – 04 July 2018,

Regional Conference “New Dynamics of Technical and Vocational Education in the Western Balkans”, Berlin, 02 – 04 July 2018,

Following the Western Balkans Summit Series and leading up to the Summit in London which will be held in July 2018, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development wishes to continue the support in one of the Berlin Process priorities – vocational education and training.  The conference “New dynamics of Technical and Vocational Education in the Western Balkans” is organized as a platform to examine questions and feed the input into the upcoming London Summit.  Important issues were topics of discussion such as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) under the increasing influence of global developments in the economicand social sphere, such as digitalisation. Against this background, how will the Western Balkan countries adjust? What are the chances of technological progress/change resulting for the Western Balkans’ economies? Is the region prepared for digital transformation?

Director of the ERI SEE Secreteriat Ms Tina Šarić attended the conference as panellist.

Germany has launched the Berlin Process at its Summit in 2014 as an initiative aimed at stepping up regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and aiding the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union.

Western Balkans Platform On Education And Training, Brussels, 25th- 27th June 2018

Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training, Brussels, 25th- 27th June 2018

Brussels – Ministers in charge of education from the Western Balkan economies endorsed a set of key principles on automatic recognition of academic qualifications in the region at the 7th Ministerial meeting of the Western Balkans Platforms on Education and Training & Research and Innovation, organised by the European Commission (EC), in Brussels. These principles build upon the work of the Joint Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)  and Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERI SEE) Working Group on Recognition of Academic Qualifications (WG RAQ).

Speaking at the ministerial panel devoted to automatic recognition of academic qualifications, RCC Secretary General Goran Svilanovic reminded that the Western Balkans’ Prime Ministers set an ambitious agenda for the region in Multi-Annual Action Plan for Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) agreed in Trieste last summer by committing to creation and the implementation of a model of automatic recognition of academic qualifications in the Western Balkans by 2020; creation of a joint information system to facilitate recognition of academic qualifications by 2019; and strengthening the cooperation between ENIC/NARIC offices and Quality Assurance Agencies in the Western Balkans.

The Conference gathered high-level representatives of the European Commission and the Western Balkans, including Commissioners for Research and Innovation and Education, Culture, Youth and sports, and the Ministers, along with relevant experts and representatives of international and regional organisations working in this field

Conference “Work-based Learning: A Road To Opportunities“, Belgrade, 12th June 2018

Conference “Work-based Learning: a road to opportunities“, Belgrade, 12th June 2018

Conference “Work-based Learning: a road to opportunities“, Belgrade, 12 June 2018

The conference on work-based learning (WBL) in vocational education and training (VET) was organized by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, together with the partners Austrian Development Cooperation and Swiss Development Cooperation. The conference is organized within the German Development Cooperation project “Reform of Vocational Education and Training in Serbia”, which is implemented by GIZ. The project started in April 2013, with the aim of supporting the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia to introduce elements of dual training in the formal VET system.

Reform of the formal VET system is in focus of Serbian education policy for many years, and work-based learning is the mechanism which will additionally modernize VET, by enabling students access to modern forms of work and empowering them to acquire competences in a real work environment. In this way students will be qualified for getting jobs after graduation more easily, while, in addition, the connection between VET system and the labour market will be stronger.

The aim of the conference “Work-based Learning: a road to opportunities” is to present the course of development and establishment of the work-based learning policy in Serbia and the perspectives of schools and companies, as well as to present and discuss about the different aspects related to the work-based learning policy.

Renowned guests from national and international institutions and organizations participated in the conference and the Director of ERI SEE Secretariat, Ms Tina šarić was moderator of an expert panel discussion.

7th Meeting Of The Joint Working Group On Mutual Recognition Of Professional Qualifications (JWG On MRPQ), Sarajevo 7th May 2018

7th Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (JWG on MRPQ), Sarajevo 7th May 2018

The Working Group on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications met for the 7th time in Sarajevo on 7 May 2018. The meeting was jointly organized by Education Reform Initiative of South East Europe (ERI SEE), Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).  Representatives of the Western Balkans Six agreed to open the negotiations on mutual Recognition Agreement of professional qualifications for Doctors of Medicine, Dentists, Architects and Civil Engineers in construction.

The Recommendation stipulates that the respective Governments appoint negotiation teams, as well as the Lead Negotiator and the Deputy Lead Negotiator and the aim is for this process to complete by the end of 2019, with the Agreement reached. This is one of the requirements of the Mobility Agenda of the Multi-Annual Action Plan on Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) for the Western Balkans, endorsed by the region’s Prime Ministers at the Trieste Summit July 2017. Among other things, MAP REA foresees removing obstacles to mobility of professionals through regional mutual recognition agreements of professional qualifications in sectors of mutual interest.

Professional qualifications are defined as formal qualifications attested by evidence, an attestation of competence issued by a competent authority and pursuant to legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions, in line with the definition of professional qualifications provided in the European Union’s (EU) Directive on Professional Qualifications.

The JWG on MRPQ further recommends establishing a Database on mobility of professionals compatible with the EU Database on mobility of professionals in line with the EU Directive on Recognition of Professional Qualifications and within the present Recommendation offers recommendations to the respective governments on establishing the Database.

Joint Working Group on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications was set up in July 2015 under the auspices of the RCC, in accordance with the goals and priorities stipulated by the South East Europe 2020 Strategy (SEE 2020), led together with SEE 2020 Dimension Coordinators – Central European Free Trade Agreement Structures (CEFTA) and Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERISEE).

SEE 2020 Strategy Coordination Board Meeting – Vienna, 30th November 2017

SEE 2020 Strategy Coordination Board Meeting – Vienna, 30th November 2017

Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) convened the 10th meeting of the SEE 2020 Strategy Coordination Board that took place in Vienna, Austria on 30 November 2017.

The aim of the meeting was to take stock of the 2017 SEE 2020 Monitoring process and to kick-off the new monitoring cycle. The participants will also discuss the priorities to be part of the SEE 2020 Programming document 2018–2020, including agreement on the timeline for the next Programming Cycle, to learn on the activities implemented by the Regional Dimension Coordinators (RDCs) since the last meeting of the SE2020 Coordination Board and their future plans, as well as to present the overview of the Multi-Annual Action Plan on Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) in Western Balkans’ six economies.

European Alliance For Apprenticeships (EAfA) – Regional Seminar For Candidate Countries – Budva, 26th October 2017

European Alliance For Apprenticeships (EAfA) – Regional Seminar For Candidate Countries – Budva, 26th October 2017

The European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) is a platform managed by the European Commission in close cooperation with EU social partners that brings together governments with other key stakeholders, for instance business associations, individual companies, social partners, chambers, vocational education and training (VET) providers, regions, youth representatives or think tanks. The common goal is to strengthen the quality, supply, image and mobility of apprenticeships in Europe.

The main purpose of the Seminar is to enable learning among Candidate Countries and EAfA members: Governments, individual employers and employers’ associations, chambers and VET providers. The thematic focus was laid on the latest policy developments and on trainers and teachers and work-based learning. The seminar provided an opportunity to further discuss on the professional development of teachers and trainers in work-based learning/apprenticeships. The seminar was organized by EAfA (led by DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) in close co-operation with the ETF and included site visits.

The Seminar focused on sharing experiences of Montenegro with regard to developing effective work-based learning/apprenticeship systems; deepening the understanding of the challenges and opportunities of work-based learning/ apprenticeship systems; learning from EAfA best practices and examples; exploring partner countries’ closer alignment with the EAfA; and considering the Riga work-based learning medium-term deliverable (MTD 1) and implementation.

More information: http://www.etf.europa.eu/web.nsf/pages/EV_2017_European_Alliance_for_Apprenticeships_(EAfA)_Regional_Seminar_for_Candidate_Countries?opendocument

Torino Process Conference 2017 – Changing Skills For A Changing World, Torino 7th – 8th June 2017

Torino Process Conference 2017 – Changing Skills for a Changing World, Torino 7th – 8th June 2017

The European Training Foundation’s (ETF) conference on the Torino Process, Changing Skills for a Changing World, took place in Turin, Italy on 7-8 June.

The Torino Process is the ETF’s flagship evidence-based policy tool for evaluating and implementing systematic change in vocational education and training (VET) policies in its partner countries. Education and training systems must engage in changing skills to ensure learners and workers acquire the adaptability needed to thrive in the fast changing world of work. The future of skills, VET and labor market systems were therefore at the forefront of the conference, which brought together more than 300 delegates.

Commissioner Marianne Thyssen delivered the keynote speech underlining that “on a global scale, the competitiveness and capacity to drive innovation of countries would, to a great extent, be determined by the skills of our people… We need to ensure our workforce is resilient and ready to reap the benefits of change. But it is also more than this – in the European Union, as in our partner countries, we must invest in people, because investing in people and their skills also creates more stable and inclusive societies” she said.

Madlen Serban, ETF Director, stressed the importance of widening the focus of the ETF’s work with partner countries to meet and embrace change.

The conference sessions introduced delegates to the five key concepts upon which the fifth round of the Torino Process will be centred. Innovation, diversification, delivery, cooperation and future were the key words that framed the discussions, debates and workshops.

Entrepreneurship and innovation in VET were also key themes of the conference. The Ideas Market embodied this, capturing changing skills through the eyes of young innovators.

The ETF will launch a call for good practice in promoting entrepreneurship as a key competence in VET. The competition is open to all VET providers from ETF partner countries. The award and the winner will be presented at the European Vocational Skills Week on 20-24 November 2017.

More information can be found http://www.etf.europa.eu .

Western Balkans Summit 2017: Delivering For The Region, Trieste, 12th July 2017

Western Balkans Summit 2017: Delivering for the region, Trieste, 12th July 2017

The 2017 Western Balkans Summit took place in Trieste, Italy, on 12th July 2017, where the Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Economy and Ministers of Transport of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo* and Serbia) together with their counterparts from several EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia) and high-level EU representatives discussed key areas of regional cooperation, and set out concrete measures to better connect the region’s infrastructures, economies and people. The summit was part of the “Berlin process”, an initiative for stronger regional cooperation in the Western Balkans. All participants also expressed great satisfaction with the prospect of further high level events in the region itself.

The Trieste Summit offered the opportunity to build on the achievements of previous Summits – Berlin (28 August 2014), Vienna (27 August 2015), Paris (4 July 2016) – and to progress further in several areas of cooperation, in particular in the connectivity agenda, which is and will remain the core element of the process, and in the regional integration process. The Summit recalled the need to provide appropriate responses to global challenges and confirmed the importance of strengthening reforms on the rule of law, fundamental rights, economic development and competitiveness in order to deliver results to citizens.

In addition, as a part of the Multiannual Action Plan accompanying the Conclusions of the Summit, the measures enabling higher mobility in the region are supported. This includes solving existing regional issues regarding the recognition of professional and higher education qualifications, for the purpose of employment and continuing education respectively. The supported activities are to be tackled in cooperation of relevant partners (among others, RCC, CEFTA, ERI SEE ENIC NARIC offices, higher education institutions) and stakeholders, which is the for their realization.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

For more information please visit: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/international/news/2017-07-12-western-balkans-summit-2017-delivering-region_en

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