The Western Balkan region has for the first time in decades shown readiness and strategic determination towards a common goal – European integration and accession to the European Union, which also entails a transformation of the political, economic, social, and cultural environment so that it fits modern European societies.  The European integration process is largely a strategic task of state and public administration, but not only at the central, but rather at the regional and local levels, too, as well as of numerous civil society actors. Understanding and being familiar with the obligations and reforms at the local level and the empowerment of actors at all levels and in all sectors has proven to be important at all stages of European integration. Keeping in mind that more than half of the EU acquis is carried out at the local level, the timely and quality inclusion of local actors in the EU integration process is of vital importance. That is especially important for Kosovo and all the ethnic communities, so as to ensure better understanding and consequently acceptance and implementation of standards and reforms.

For political and social actors to be involved in the European integration process in a meaningful and quality way, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive programme and provide the possibility of acquiring particular knowledge and skills. Given that such knowledge is not very accessible in the regular curriculum in northern Kosovo*, and that there is still no literature on the EU in the local languages, an interactive and multidisciplinary model of the School of European Integration in Kosovska Mitrovica was launched, mirroring the existing models in Priština, Montenegro, Serbia etc.

The education and inclusion of selected individuals from all levels of government and public administration, as well as other relevant actors, creates more realistic grounds for better information, understanding and support for the European integration process among the population, which are still extremely low. Acquiring knowledge and skills and understanding regional and European trends, policies and debates are prerequisites for better designing and implementing local economic and other policies, programming and use of EU pre-accession aid, and the enhancement of cooperation between different sectors, but also across ethnic, administrative and state borders and barriers.

The School of European Integration is designed for representatives of public institutions and local self-government units, civil society organisations, the media, and the business sector, as well as for students in the north of Kosovo*.

The SEI programme is being realised in the course of six months, from June to December 2018. The programme is divided into two thematic areas/working groups. Two-day workshops for each of the groups are being held biweekly, in the Serbian language, by renowned European integration experts. The candidates will choose between two thematic areas: The Rule of Law and Sustainable Development.

Two study visits (to Belgrade and Priština) and one regional seminar will be organised during the programme.

The aim of the project is to enhance the knowledge and understanding of the EU (its history, how it works, its institutions, instruments, and policies) and the European integration process, as well as the knowledge and skills of particular importance for the local community, primarily in the areas of the rule of law and sustainable development.

Specific goals:

  • To increase/strengthen the capacities of local leaders, their knowledge and skills in particular areas of special importance for the local community – primarily for monitoring reforms in the rule of law and in the implementation of projects which contribute to local economic development;
  • To increase/strengthen the capacities of key local actors for active participation in the European integration process and a quality contribution through the monitoring of key reforms within this process;
  • To advance the knowledge, understanding and skills of key actors in particular thematic areas of the rule of law and local economic development, which are especially beneficial to the local community;
  • To enhance the knowledge and understanding of the EU, European values, the European integration process and instruments of the EU’s support to the Western Balkan region among the key actors and citizens;
  • To connect the key actors, especially those gathered around the target topics that are the focus of the SEI 2018 programme and the exchange of experiences and practices;

The SEI programme beneficiaries are the citizens of northern Kosovo and Gračanica and the local community, which will reap many benefits from the strengthening of capacities of its key actors and leaders.

PROJECT DURATION: June 2018– February 2019