Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group – BiEPAG
Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) is a group of experts engaged in research and analysis of political, economic and social trends and dynamics in the Balkans, Europe and beyond. Its goal is to influence the acceleration of the Western Balkans’ European integration, its democratization, socio-economic transformation and better inter-ethnic relations; in order to achieve that goal, BiEPAG produces evidence-based policy proposals and advocates them with regional and European decision- and opinion-makers.
BiEPAG members are prominent policy analysts, scholars and researchers from the Balkans and wider Europe. They assess conventional and alternative models of development of the Balkans and the region’s relations with the European Union, they reconsider policies of the Union’s institutions, of Member States and of governments in the region and they prepare recommendations for stakeholders. The advocacy of the BiEPAG’s policy products is geared to contribute to solving the most significant challenges the region is facing, and, ultimately, to the Europeanization of the Balkans.
BiEPAG was established in 2013 as a joint initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) and the Centre for the Southeast European Studies of the University of Graz. So far, it has published more than 140 policy papers and blogs, and has organised and participated in dozens of political and expert meetings.
“Vicinities” is a regionally televised show that encourages dialogue between people living in the Balkans, through stimulating debate on problems shared by the countries in the region. Its goal is to foster reconciliation, promote better understanding among people, contribute to the freedom of expression and introduce European values in Balkan societies.
In this TV show, expert guests from across the region are gathered in a studio with a live audience to discuss regional political relations, economic difficulties, security challenges, as well as social trends that citizens face in their everyday lives. So far, the show has tackled topics such as surviving the economic crisis; great powers and the Balkans; regional cooperation; transport networks; learning democracy; youth unemployment; and climate change.
“Vicinities” was launched in 2012 by the European Fund for the Balkans and the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe. Six seasons of the show were broadcast via 10 television stations across the region. All of the episodes are available online.
Policy hackathons are competitions that create a fusion of policy research and analysis, and digital technology, with a focus on solving social problems. The goal of these unique regional endeavours is to inspire innovative ideas on how to change the Balkan political and social environments.
Competitions are held throughout the region. Defining key problems faced by citizens and stimulating out-of- the-box thinking about how to solve them are the tasks for the participants. Organised in teams, they have two days to design the digital policy tools that could contribute to solving particular problems in the given policy areas. A digital policy tool can be anything that is used every day in the world of digital communications – a website, mobile application, search engine, browser add-on, social network etc.
This project was launched in 2018. The first regional policy hackathons, #BalkanConnect2018, took place in Sarajevo, Belgrade, Skopje and Sarajevo and attracted more than 70 participants.