The EUI’s School of Transnational Governance (STG) had been entrusted by ReSPA to host the 2023 edition of its annual executive programme. From 4-7 July, 24 civil servants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia delved into issues around European integration at Palazzo Buontalenti.
The summer school aimed at enhancing governance and administrative capacity in the Western Balkans, equipping participants with the skills and knowledge to advance EU integration. Moreover, it provided a platform for collective learning and knowledge exchange whilst promoting good governance and the rule of law.
Maja Handjiska-Trendafilova, Director of ReSPA, emphasised the importance of the cooperation between the two institutions: “The Summer School on European Integration is one of the concrete results of a newly established partnership between ReSPA and EUI, which is of immense benefit and importance to the public officials dealing with the European integration agenda from the Western Balkans. I am sure the extensive and rich programme of the school will help our region’s practitioners' professional growth in the various high-stakes roles and capacities they have.”
The programme featured engaging discussions and insightful presentations covering topics such as diplomacy and decision-making, negotiation skills, mediation and conflict resolution, regional cooperation and the dynamics of EU accession, as well as the relationship between the Western Balkans and the EU.
The line-up of speakers included Marco Del Panta, Secretary General of the EUI, Romana Vlahutin, Visiting Distinguished Fellow at German Marshall Fund, Andrea Cascone from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Jelena Dzankic, EUI Adjunct Professor, Mario Munta, EUI Assistant Professor, Bojan Kordalov, Senior Communication Specialist and President of the Institute for Good Governance and Euro Atlantic Perspective (IDUEP), Alain Lempereur, EUI Adjunct Professor, Aleksandar Andrija Pejović, Senior Expert in EU affairs, and Clive Rumbold, Senior Expert at the Western Balkans Division of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
Also amongst the instructors was EUI alumna Simonida Kacarska, current director of the European Policy Institute in Skopje and member of the first cohort of STG Policy Leader Fellows in 2018. “Coming back as a trainer at the summer school for Western Balkans civil servants has been an incredible experience for me personally. The energy in Palazzo Buontalenti gave me hope for the future accession of the Western Balkans. In my view, such exchanges are essential for building the human capacity and people to people linkages between the region and the EU.”
By strengthening their knowledge and negotiations skills, participants will be able to advance the reform agenda of the region, foster democratic institutions, and contribute to a prosperous future within the European Union. As confirmed by Bojan Vujovic from Montenegro, “the most important learning outcome of these days is how to better create negotiations positions and improve negotiations skills”.
Lorina Misku, from Albania stated that “by attending this summer school, I added a very important value to my professional profile.”
The summer school was followed by a two-day training on “Transnational Policymaking & Good Governance” for managers and members of the ReSPA Governing Board. On this occasion, speakers such as Diane Stone, EUI STG Chair of Public Policy, Giacomo Luchetta, Partner of Syntesia Policy & Economics, Giovanni Faleg, Senior Analyst, and Florian Eder, EUI Adjunct Professor, addressed issues ranging from global policy and transnational governance to strategic foresight and policy communication. The training concluded with a conversation on leadership in crises with STG Director Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of Finland, and Georgios Papakonstantinou, EUI Dean of Executive Education and former Finance Minister of Greece.
Initiatives like the Summer School on EU Integration contribute to building resilient societies and economies, addressing critical challenges, and facilitating regional cooperation.
With the EUI and ReSPA as catalysts for progress, the Western Balkans can take a gradual step toward the EU membership.
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