18 Jan 2021

Strengthen regional cooperation to promote youth mobility and increase the chances of joining the EU

Education and training are the tools that every country needs to prepare a given generation for the future. The success of the youth depends on the quality of their education, training, opportunities and rights. People coming from the Balkans are facing serious difficulties to integrate universities and training courses located within the European Union. 

One among the several reasons, that is decelerating the Western Balkan countries’ accession process of joining the EU, is a weak regional cooperation. A greater cooperation would positively rebuild the image of the Western Balkans, not only within the EU institutions, but also within the populations of each member State. 

Here come various links between regional cooperation, youth mobility and education/training. First, the Erasmus+ program established by the European Union is one of the most important instruments in offering opportunities, especially on education and training. Even though it offers a wide range of prospects, it has its limits. Secondly, this latter affects negatively the people coming from the Balkans, their level of inclusiveness in the EU and restricted number of opportunities, not only to integrate the EU academic and training institutions, but also the EU labor market. Finally, not all Western Balkan countries are fully members of this exchange program. For example, North Macedonia is a fully member of this program, but Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania and Montenegro are only Partner Countries which means that they can only participate under several conditions.1

Additionally, the above Erasmus+2 features cited which do not offer full opportunities to the youth from the Western Balkan countries, compared to their counterpart from the EU, could be improved by the Western Balkan authorities, through:

-Cooperation and evaluation of a regional Exchange program, similar to Erasmus+, but only for the Western Balkans in order to offer the same opportunities as Erasmus+
-Improvement of teaching quality and the academic offer, taking it into a more international and European approach so students could have less difficulties to integrate the labor market outside the Balkan region. Doing so, on the one hand, the Western Balkan will attract more and more international and EU student, and on the other hand, International and European companies establishing within the region will hire the youth from the Balkans, reduce or stop the phenomenon of brain drain, and not importing employees from the EU. 

The Western Balkans’ youth would positively benefit from a solid cooperation by taking part to initiatives like Erasmus+, gain knowledge and skills, develop and improve linguistic ability, be aware of the EU integration dialogue and multiculturalism. In the same time, they will be closer as Balkans, but also with their EU counterpart. 1 2

Author : Bocar Ly, Intern in ALDA Skopje

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