A New EU Perspective for the Western Balkans?
Closing Seminar of the TRAIN 2017 Programme in Brussels
The seminar in Brussels marked the conclusion of this year’s TRAIN Programme, which focused on “Corruption and Informal Practices.” Over the course of the year, twelve participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia developed policy research on that topic. Following workshops in Belgrade and Berlin, they then discussed their policy papers with EU decision-makers in Brussels. For the first time, six alumni from previous TRAIN years were given the opportunity to be part of the closing seminar and to connect with the current participants, while also contributing their perspective on the subject area in discussions with EU actors, thereby receiving valuable feedback for their own research.
Next to meetings at the Permanent Representation of Germany to the EU, the Council of the EU, and the European External Action Service, researchers were able to enter into in-depth conversation with the Directorate General’s members of their respective country units at the European Commission. Central topics were the expected new enlargement strategy and the demand for a clear timetable with regard to EU accession. Another program highlight was a meeting in the European Parliament, where participants had the opportunity to discuss their research findings with the Foreign Affairs Committee.
TRAIN stands for “Think Tanks Providing Research and Advice through Interaction and Networking” and is dedicated to promoting independent policy research institutes from the Western Balkan region. In a series of workshops, participating researchers work on writing policy papers and developing advocacy strategies. TRAIN’s overall aim is to support civil society organizations and to foster the national and European policy dialogue on key issues regarding the EU integration process.