Summer Seminar 2011

Summer Seminars » Summer Seminar 2011

For twelfth consecutive year the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) organized its traditional Summer Seminar for Young Public Servants “Efficient Membership and Successful Preparation for EU Accession”. This year’s seminar was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria and with the kind financial support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria and the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation. For third year in a row the international forum was hosted by Riviera Holiday Club, Varna in the period of June 20-25, 2011.

The current edition of the regional initiative marked an important step in the history of the project. For the first time, five new countries from the Black Sea Region – Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan – were included in the initiative. Thus, the project broadened its scope, now paying attention also to the partnership relations of the EU with the Black Sea Region states. In this way, the international seminar expanded its target group adding young public servants not only from the ten SEE countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey) but also from the five new states from the Black Sea Region.

Following a rigorous selection procedure, 32 young professionals representing state administrations from 15 countries were chosen for participation in the project. The prestigious international forum gathered a number of prominent lecturers from all over Europe, honorary guests, ambassadors as well as members of the academia and the business circles. Altogether, the 5-day training attracted around 65 experts.

The seminar’s agenda was extremely dynamic, incorporating both presentations during panel sessions and discussions in working groups. The following thematic fields were embedded in the program:

■ The EU Membership - Lessons and Conclusions from Bulgaria and Romania;
■ The Processes of EU Integration – Lessons Learnt and Challenges Ahead;
■ The European Union - Economic Expectations and Tasks;
■ Good Governance Policies in South Eastern Europe;
■ The European Union and Its Neighbours;
■ The European Union on the Global Scene;
■ The Future of the EU.
Honorary morning and dinner speeches complemented the program:
■ The Engagement of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in the Sector of Justice and Home Affairs in South Eastern Europe by Dr. Klaus Fiesinger – Head of Department, Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Munich;
■ Europe and its South-East Challenges and Necessities by Former Vice-Chancellor Dr. Erhard Busek – President, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, Vienna; Former Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, Brussels;
■ Achievements of the Hungarian EU Presidency by H. E. Judit Láng – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hungary in Bulgaria, Sofia;
■ Public Diplomacy by H.E. Gerhard Reiweger – Ambassador of Austria to Bulgaria, Sofia.

A large share of the program was devoted to interactive working groups, thus allowing participants to work together on particular tasks, to actively debate on various topics as well as to exchange ideas, experience and know-how. The young experts showed remarkable skills in the discussions which lead to fruitful results. At the end of the seminar they presented the findings, recommendations and conclusions they have agreed upon.

Five working group sessions were held during the 5-day training:

■ EU Integration and Transformation with five analytical subjects: The Process of EU Integration – Challenges to the Candidate and Potential Candidate Countries, EU Policies towards the Black Sea Region: Challenges and Opportunities, EU – Russia Relations, EU Financial Support for Candidate and Potential Candidate Countries: Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA);
■ Economic Challenges to the SEE and Black Sea Region;
■ Challenges to the Enlarged European Union;
■ Interactive Workshop: Financial and Extra-Financial Reporting by Listed Companies in South East Europe;
■ World Cafe – Strategy “Europe 2020” – Priorities And Prospects Towards the Future of the European Union.
Continuing the already established tradition, the seminar once again offered the participants a chance to work with prominent and highly respected lecturers. Among them were:
■ Prof. András Inotai, Director General, Institute for World Economics, Budapest; President, Economic Policy Institute, Sofia;
■ Former Vice-Chancellor Dr. Erhard Busek, President, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, Vienna; Former Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, Brussels;
■ Jens Bastian, Senior Economic Research Fellow for Southeast Europe, ELIAMEP, Athens; Alpha Bank Fellow for Southeast Europe, St. Antony's College, Oxford;
■ H.E. Manfred Scheich, Former Ambassador of Austria to the EC, Vienna;
■ Prof. Dr. Eckart D. Stratenschulte, Director of the Academy, The European Academy Berlin;
■ Dr. Klaus Fiesinger, Head of Department, Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Munich;
■ Cornelius Ochmann, Project Manager, Bertelsmann Foundation, Berlin;
■ Panos Liverakos, RCPAR Team Leader, Democratic Governance Practice, UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre;
■ H. E. Judit Láng, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hungary in Bulgaria, Sofia;
■ H.E. Gerhard Reiweger, Ambassador of Austria to Bulgaria, Sofia;
■ Lothar Jaschke, European External Action Service, Western Balkans Department, Brussels;
■ Dr. Kaloyan Simeonov, State Expert, EU Affairs Coordination Directorate, Council of Ministers of Republic of Bulgaria, Sofia;
■ Monika Panayotova, Member of the  41st National Assembly, Chairperson of the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds.

The successfully implemented twelfth consecutive edition of the Summer Seminar „Efficient Membership and Successful Preparation for EU Accession” brought numerous positive results for the target group – young civil servants from the state administrations of 15 countries from Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea Region. The training directly contributed to further enhancing their administrative and professional capacity due to the exchange of experience, good practices and know-how. Throughout the event the young experts had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of questions of common regional interest and importance as well as to share their personal experience and practical skills. Thus, the seminar participants established stable contacts and found together solutions to common problems. The higher level of communication between them and closer cooperation also contributed to the better preparation of the experts regarding future challenges and problems in their everyday work.

In numerous informal talks and discussions during and after the Summer Seminar participants shared with the organizers that some of the strongest points of the training include the high level of the speakers and the excellent event-management. Based on the feedback we have received through the Evaluation forms we could conclude that the seminar conducted by EPI was a real success. So, this year the regional initiative once again managed to achieve its goals, namely to build a hub for training and exchange of knowledge, ideas and experience in the field of European integration among the future leaders of SEE and the Black Sea Region.