Programme Background

The Think and Link – Regional Policy Programme was launched in 2008, with the aim of addressing the challenges and needs of the region and encouraging various debates on costs and opportunities of building a genuine EU member-state.

For the actors committed to the establishment of inclusive systems of governance, the improved use of knowledge in formulating policy is a vehicle to contribute to the process of democratization and socio-economic reforms. Rising up to the challenge, a new cohort of local policy research organizations emerged as an important actors in shaping public policies and assisting the European Union accession process. In last couple of years, EFB committed substantial resources towards strengthening the capacity of these organizations to deliver quality policy research and ensure greater impact on the policies.

Therefore, the programme is directed towards civil society organizations: think tanks, policy oriented NGO’s and independent policy institutes from the Western Balkans.

It fosters inclusive and evidence-based policy making in the Western Balkans by initiating regional research projects which are relevant in order to:


  • inspire analysis and case studies of important aspects of member-state building in the Western Balkans societies;

  • support comparative and evidence-based policy-making;

  • foster broad and informed public debates;

  • enhance intellectual regional co-operation, exchange of experience and networking.


The goal of the Think and Link programme today is to elevate the high-end research of the advanced Western Balkans’ think tanks on EU integration, and to couple them with efficient strategies for dissemination and advocacy of the research-based policy recommendations, to regional decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders.


The general objective of the programme is to contribute to the development of a policy platform that improves policy making in the region while strengthening democratic institutions and civil societies in the Western Balkans and supporting EU integration.

The specific objective of this call is to support regional policy-oriented research projects contributing to transparent, inclusive, evidence-based policy making processes supporting the WB EU accession.

The activities to be implemented through this programme should lead to the following results:

  • Regional policy papers, based on sound research, produced.

  • Public policy events triggered by innovative, effective and efficient outreach activities

Methodology and benefits

The Think and Link programme is structured on a 12-month cycle, which combines research with training seminars, while the final presentations, in the region and in the EU, are scheduled for the end of the track and serve as an opening dissemination platform.

During the course of the cycle, they develop research-based and realistic policy proposals, advice or alternatives, accompanied by action plans for effective outreach, dissemination and advocacy activities.

The benefit of being selected to participate in this programme goes beyond the funding for a research project. The European Fund for the Balkans additionally supports the selected applicants through organizing a capacity building program cycle, composed of meetings and networking opportunities. It also assists the participating organizations in establishing links to institutions with relevant expertise in the region and in the EU, so that their projects increase their tangible policy influence through the joint regional public policy platform.

Who are we looking for?

Only registered Think tanks, policy-oriented CSOs and independent policy institutes registered in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, are eligible to submit an application for this Programme. Applicants must act with partner organisations from the same countries, which should also be registered.

The applicant need to have at least two partner organisations. Applicant and partners can have their legal seats in at least three different countries in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia). Applicants’ partners participate in designing and implementing the project, and the costs they incur are eligible in the same way as those incurred by the grant beneficiary.


Up to 5 regional projects are supported within one programme cycle, with the maximum amount of 25.000 EURO for each grant. The grants do not require cost share, however cost share would be encouraged, if possible. Minimum percentages of EFB contribution in the total eligible costs of the project has to be 50% or more.