About the Think & Link Regional Policy Programme
In order to encourage various debates on the challenges, costs and opportunities of building a genuine EU member-state, the European Fund for the Balkans launched its region-wide policy programme: “THINK AND LINK” – Regional Policy Programme in 2008.
The programme seeked to foster inclusive and evidence-based policy making in the Western Balkans by initiating and supporting individual and collaborative research projects on the chosen annual programme topic, embedded in the regional seminar programme cycle.
Emerging think tanks, policy oriented NGO’s, independent policy institutes and policy relevant research groups were encouraged to participate in the programme cycle (capacity building and networking seminars, mentoring) and conducting a research project which analysed the in-country policies against the needs and requirements derived from the EU acquis, necessary to ensure effective and complete compliance.
Each year, a variable number of organizations from the Western Balkans were financially supported to perform the research on the proposed topic, different for each programme cycle.
Based on their research results, they developed concrete policy proposals, policy advice or policy alternatives. In order to support the policy transformation, the policy proposals also provided a feasible strategy for change. The effective and efficient dissemination strategy was crucial element of the programme. The outreach activities were expected to be an integral part of the research proposals. On the other hand, EFB involved policy-makers, non-state stakeholders and developed complementary promotion activities in the region and in EU, in order to obtain feedback and dissemination results.
After the process of evaluation of the programme and the strategic planning in 2015, having in mind both the EFB’s and the programme’s objectives, it was decided that the Fellowship Programme for Government Officials in the 2015-2020 period will be focused on supporting the regional policy-oriented research projects contributing to transparent, inclusive, evidence-based policy making processes supporting the Western Balkans EU accession. In that manner, regional cooperation, rule of law, good governance, fight against racism and radicalisation and migration were detected as relevant thematic areas for the latest edition of the programme for 2016.