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ETF joins Western Balkans Summit

Year/Date: 13/07/2017

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Entrepreneurial skills, youth, mobility, work-based learning and smart specialisation were among the topics discussed at the Western Balkans Summit.

Heads of government and senior ministers from ETF partner countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia took part in the meeting in Trieste, Italy.They were joined by leaders from Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Slovenia, the United Kingdom as well as representatives of the European Union (EU) and international institutions.

The European Training Foundation (ETF) hosted a workshop as part of the Youth Forum, which brought together 60 young people from across the region and the EU. Working in close cooperation with DG EMPL and DG NEAR, the workshop looked at ways of promoting entrepreneurship. Participants discussed the need to invest in people to develop entrepreneurial societies.

On the issue of mobility, the Commission noted ongoing measures to improve the uptake in the EU's Erasmus+ programme in the Western Balkans. Celebrating 30 years, the EU programme continues to support education, training, youth and sport.

Private sector and SMEs development

A dynamic business environment is essential for the diversification and modernization of the economy and the creation of job opportunities and growth. Participants agreed to work towards a more dynamic investment environment building on entrepreneurship, and using regional strengths, including young people and scientific expertise.

Training in entrepreneurial skills, capacity for SMEs, and innovative public private partnerships to enhance work-based learning in vocational education and training (VET) were also highlighted in the discussions.

The European Commission announced €48 million for the Western Balkan Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility, and a further €7 million to support concrete business opportunities through the Regional Economic Area plan, which covers trade, investment, digital economy and smart specialisation. The extra investment will ‘reinforce the capacity of Western Balkans economies to meet the EU accession economic criteria,’ the Declaration by the Italian Chair reads.

Participants also unanimously reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans.‘The future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union, a Union open to those European countries which respect its values and are committed to promoting them,’ the Declaration reads.

Read the full declaration here.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence



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