Public administration reform (PAR) remains among the focal areas of EU’s assistance for the Western Balkans countries, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia (hereafter WB6). According to the strategy agreed during the Berlin process in the framework of the EU’s Connectivity Agenda for the Western Balkans, in 2016 the European Commission launched a pilot action for a regional executive programme and exchange component for young civil servants from the Western Balkans, namely the EU Scheme for Young Professionals in the Western Balkans (EUSYP).

This pilot action has had a positive impact on facilitating and improving two cornerstones of the EU accession process in the Western Balkans: PAR and regional cooperation. Based on the encouraging results of the pilot project presented in the context of the Trieste Summit held in July 2017, the European Commission, following a positive opinion of the IPA Committee (Member States), decided to continue the EUSYP for further two rounds of selection (namely Round II and Round III).

Ninety (90) young civil servants (fifteen from each WB6 beneficiary) benefited from an executive programme implemented in partnership with the Science Po (Paris) and the College of Europe (Bruges).

During the programme, civil servants participated in a regional exchange component which involved each of them spending two weeks in the public administration of a neighbouring WB6/IPA II beneficiary country. Regional cooperation remains a catalyst for the enlargement process and a key enabling factor for comprehensive reforms and the return to sustainable economic growth in the Western Balkans. This regional cooperation component of the Action facilitated peer review and learning and the sharing of good practices and helped participants to understand better the neighbouring “other” thus also contributing to reconciliation efforts in the region. During the exchange phase, 18 policy briefs were produced and presented to the Western Balkans governments.

[1] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence