Timeframe: 2008 – 2019 | 11 cycles, 80 Think Tanks
The European Fund for the Balkans launched its capacity building Think and Link - Regional Policy Programme in 2008 by offering support to the think tanks and encouraging the various debates on the challenges, costs and opportunities of supporting the process of building genuine EU member-states in the Western Balkans.
It fostered inclusive and evidence-based policy making in the Western Balkans by initiating and supporting individual and collaborative research projects on a selected annual programme topic.
From the very beginning, emerging think tanks, policy-oriented NGO’s, independent policy institutes and policy-relevant research groups were encouraged to participate in capacity building and networking seminars, mentoring and research projects which analysed internal state policies against the needs and requirements derived from the EU acquis, necessary to ensure effective and complete compliance. In the first years, up to twelve organisations from the Western Balkans were financially supported to perform research on a proposed topic, different for each programme year. Later on, up to six organisations were selected to take the lead in these joint regional projects.
Based on the research results, they developed concrete policy proposals, policy advice or policy alternatives. To support policy transformation, the proposals also needed to provide a feasible strategy for change. An effective and efficient dissemination strategy was a crucial element of the programme and it was thus expected that research proposals contain outreach activities as their integral part. On the other hand, in order to obtain feedback and dissemination results, the EFB involved policy-makers, non-state stakeholders and developed complementary promotional activities. The programme’s goal was to encourage citizen participation in decision-making processes by enabling policy-oriented civil society organisations to formulate and advocate public policies which influence the political and social transformation of the region in its European integration process.
This programme has supported more than 80 think tanks and civil society organisations from Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Croatia during the last decade.