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European Fund for the Balkans Fellowships in the Austrian Parliament 2019-2020 – A new initiative and cooperation with the Austrian Parliament, supported by the ERSTE Foundation

14.11.2018

On the initiative of the Austrian Parliament and with the support of the ERSTE Foundation a cooperation between the Austrian Parliament and the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) is established in order to launch the European Fund for the Balkans Fellowships 2019-2020 at the Austrian Parliament” from the beginning of 2019.

On the basis of the EFB’s 10 years editions of the Fellowship Programme for Government Officials from the Western Balkans, this new programme of the EFB will address officials of the National Parliaments of the following 6 Western Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The Austrian Parliament offered to serve as a host institution for the fellows selected by the EFB via public call.

During his working visit to Serbia and the Serbian Parliament on November 13, the president of the Austrian National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka announced the future cooperation between the Fund and the Austrian Parliament as a support to the rule of law and the  democracy development in the entire WB region.

-When it comes to bringing the Western Balkans to the European Union, the national parliaments are having an important role, especially in times of political turmoil. The scholarship program initiated by the Austrian parliament ,launched jointly with the European Fund for the Balkans and supported by the ERSTE Foundation which is envisaged to promote the parliamentary work and the strengthening of democracy will start with the public call which will be published in January 2019. The Parliamentary staff from all the six Western Balkan countries will be able to apply for a 3-month work fellowship in the Austrian Parliament in order to deepen the cooperation and exchange between the Austrian and the WB parliaments on a political and administrative level – said Sobotka.

The Austrian Parliament is the first National Parliament to cooperate with the EFB in such a way, making it a pioneer in this regard. The cooperation would also help strengthen and support the EFB’s activities in capacity building and institution building, a field in which parliaments play a particularly important role.

The EFB Fellowships at the Austrian Parliament will offer professionals working in the administrations of their National Parliaments a unique opportunity to familiarize themselves with the operations and practices of the Austrian Parliament, as well as to observe and to learn from administrative staff and professionals about various aspects of their work. Following their indicated preferences the Fellows will have the opportunity to work in particular in one of the following fields: central administrative services, plenary meetings, committee support, legal, legislative and research affairs, IT, EU participation. The call for applications will be launched in January 2019.