19 EU-funded cooperation programmes addressing various common challenges in the Western Balkans have triggered real change for local communities in the last 15 years. They have contributed to the development of some economically important sectors, the environment and social inclusion. As 2023 is the European Year of Skills, in our session we wanted to showcase how IPA funds have enabled skills development in the WBs through cooperation projects, highlighting achievements and a good spirit of cooperation.

Two EU-funded cross-border cooperation projects were presented: CREATIVE@CBC implemented under the Interreg IPA CBC programme Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro and One-stop-shop service for social inclusion and youth employability project implemented under the IPA-IPA CBC programme Serbia – Montenegro.

Ivan Topalovic, Project manager from Centre for youth work from Novi Sad, Serbia presented the achievements of the One-stop-shop project and its benefits for the unemployed young people from the bordering area of Serbia and Montenegro.

On the other hand, Goran Rodic, Project manager from Development Agency “PREDA” from Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented CREATIVE@CBC project, Cross-border networking of creative industry.

Their presentations were supported by short videos and testimonials from the projects’ final beneficiaries (videos presented soon to be published).

Gilles Kittel, Team Leader – Instrument for Pre-Accession, Enlargement Negotiations and EUSAIR at European Commission, DG REGIO in his presentation addressed the main obstacles for the cross-border cooperation, a new generation of Interreg IPA programmes as well as macroregional strategies and their future targets. He also presented a good example of project with capitalization, HISTEK project that is implemented under Interreg IPA CBC programme Italy – Albania – Montenegro.