Pathways for macro-regional collaboration in the Western Balkans

One of the central tasks within the GreenFORCE project is to examine the current state and future potential for macro-regional collaboration between Western Balkan (WB) countries. The goal is to identify pathways for enhancing macro-regional cooperation in the WBs to help deliver the aims and objectives of the GAWB/EDG.More specifically, this task entails:

  • assessing which GAWB/EGD policy themes offer scope for collaboration between WB countries;
  • examining which existing transnational structures, platforms, and networks can help facilitate GAWB/EDG macroregional collaboration;
  • identifying the challenges for GAWB/EDG macroregional cooperation and ways to overcome these obstacles;
  • and exploring how regional and local actors be better integrated into GAWB/EDG macroregional policy processes.

To address this task, Nordregio has taken the lead in drafting a general overview of ‘macro-regions’ within the context of EU multi-level governance structures and other forms of cross-border/transnational collaboration. While this type of collaboration can be put into action in various ways and the scope may vary, it is often underpinned by geography, common needs, and challenges, or by political, economic, and social cooperation, or a combination of the above.

A second and ongoing activity involves partners jointly exploring the specific conditions that define the general needs, challenges, opportunities for macroregional collaboration in the WBs. The work includes a series of interviews and focus group discussions with a diverse group of stakeholders in Tirana, Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Skopje to gain first-hand insights. Stakeholders were carefully selected to represent the perspective of national and sub-national government tiers, practitioners within the public administration, the civil society, academia, as well as international organisations relevant in influencing policy agendas.

The joint effort between partners has proven to be particularly useful to increase awareness of past and present processes, organisations and initiatives in the region. It has also provided a more profound understanding of the different national and local contexts, regional dynamics, idiosyncrasies, and historical processes relevant for cooperation. One preliminary reflection is that macroregional collaboration cannot depend on a single overarching entity. Instead, it requires multiple types of structures, networks, and initiatives to enable effective and sustainable cooperation and dialogue among different stakeholder groups.This includes high-level political collaboration, as well as more practical, technical, and academic cooperation, and broader societal engagement.

This work will continue to evolve during the remaining duration of the project.

 

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