Summer Seminar 2019

Summer Seminars » Summer Seminar 2019

2019 is an important year in the development of the EPI’s traditional Summer Seminar for Young Public Policy Professionals from Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region, as it marked the 20th anniversary of our long-term regional project. Within the last two decades the Summer Seminar proved to be not only a high-level expert forum for discussions on different public policy issues and EU affairs, but also a well-known and highly reputable regional initiative, which is actively contributing to the successful cooperation and networking among young public policy experts from SEE and Black Sea countries.

The 20th anniversary edition of the Summer Seminar entitled "Public Policy Challenges - European and Regional Dimensions" took place in the period June 3-7, 2019 in Albena complex (close to the city of Varna) – a symbolic location at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast for fostering regional cooperation between for SEE and Black Sea countries. The 2019 edition of the Summer Seminar was made possible thanks to the kind financial support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria, the Central European Initiative and the Austrian Embassy in Bulgaria.

After a competitive selection process, the 2019 Summer Seminar brought together a diverse group of young professionals from public administration structures and policy-oriented research centers from thirteen SEE and Black Sea countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Traditionally, a vital contribution to seminar’s diverse agenda was delivered by 15 prominent speakers – high-level officials from national and EU institutions, international experts and practitioners, university professors, representatives of leading companies and research centres and think-tanks from the SEE and Black Sea region and last but not least alumni participants from previous editions of the Summer Seminar. The 20th anniversary edition put the beginning of a practice for alumni participants’ contribution within the agenda either as SS Alumni Speakers or SS Alumni Ambassadors.

The seminar was opened on 3 June with welcoming remarks by EPI’s Executive Director, Yasen Georgiev and the Head of Communications at European Commission Representation in Bulgaria, Boyko Blagoev. Participants’ self-introductions session was followed by Networking Cocktail aiming at paving the way for an intensive cooperation and networking among the young professionals from the outset of the forum.  

The morning session of the first seminar day was dedicated to the Panel “Political, Economic and Security Challenges on the European & Global Agenda” with the invaluable contributions from:
- Prof. Dr. Eckart D. Stratenschulte, Acting Chairman of the Board, German National Foundation, Berlin;
- Prof. Ingrid Shikova, Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski”.

The afternoon panel shifted the focus to the “Current State of Play and the Future Insights into the EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood policy”. Firstly participants had the chance to get an overview of the most recent state of play in both areas and later on, split in groups to discuss EU Enlargement and EU Neighbourhood Policy within two tailor-made workshops with both panelists: 
- Sebastian Schäffer, Managing Director, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, Vienna;
- Detlev Boeing, SAA Coordination and Connectivity Desk Officer Transport, Energy & Environment, DG NEAR, European Commission, Brussels.

Day 2 of the Summer Seminar started with a comprehensive and thought-provoking speech of the EPI’s Honorary President Prof. András Inotai on the topic “SEE & Black Sea Countries in Quest of New Models”. The second day also marked the thematic transition to the good governance section in the agenda. It started with the presentation of the results of EPI’s third annual survey "Mapping of Public Policy Challenges in SEE and Black Sea Countries", presented by Ms. Mariana Trifonova, Senior Analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. The survey aims at capturing sentiment among the group of Summer Seminar experts on the current state of governance in their countries and is considered by EPI a bottom-up approach for examining current public policy challenges in SEE based on insiders’ point of view as well as a unique excerpt of opinions from neighbouring EU Member States and non-EU Member States.

The 2019 Summer Seminar continued with the first Alumni Spotlight session within the seminar agenda, delivered by Mr. Alexandre Revia, Chairman, LEPL Public Private Partnership Agency, Tbilisi (SS2016 Alumnus), who elaborated on the importance of  public private partnerships for improving performance of public governance. The second part of the day was devoted to a field trip to the city of Varna, during which participants had to accomplish group tasks related to practical examples of good governance, regional cooperation and Bulgaria’s membership in the EU.

Day 3 focused to topics like the corruption and state capture in Southeast Europe, good governance and how artificial intelligence (AI) interrelates with public institutions within a panel on “Good Governance in the SEE and Black Sea”. The audience benefitted from the insightful remarks of:
- Emil Tsenkov, Ph.D., Security Program, Center for the Study of Democracy, Sofia;
- Pavel Ivanov, Executive Director, Institute for Public Administration, Sofia (SS2006 Alumnus);
- George Randelov, Public Sector Director CEE MCE and Acting Country Manager Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Microsoft.

The afternoon on the third day provided an opportunity for the participating young experts to reflect more intensively on two of the key issues in the program so far. The two parallel workshops facilitated by Yasen Georgiev and Paramjeet Berwal (Invited University Lecturer, Researcher & PhD Candidate and SS2018 Alumnus) tackled stakeholder mapping and analysis and on the other hand and the legal, policy and economic landscape of the AI future.

The final seminar day continued with a future-oriented presentation on “Futurology in the Public Policies” by another SS Alumna – Milena Andreeva, Senior Expert, Bilateral and Regional Cooperation, Protocol and Bilateral Cooperation Directorate, Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria & 2013 Bulgarian Youth Delegate to the United Nations.

The key-note speech of Ognian Zlatev, Head of EC Representation in Bulgaria was the perfect concluding of the seminar agenda by touching upon all the current challenges on the EU agenda especially with respect to the new European Commission and its future priorities. 

The formal agenda was concluded with a lively wrap-up discussion and a certificate awarding ceremony where Yasen Georgiev and Ognian Zlatev congratulated all participants on the successful completion of the 2019 Summer Seminar. 

Thus, after five days of comprehensive and interesting panel sessions, vivid discussions and creative interactive sessions, it was time for summing up the seminar outcomes, for looking back at the two decades history of the seminar and for discussing the future of EPI’s regional initiative. The successful implementation of the 2019 Summer Seminar anniversary edition and its high appreciation both by the speakers and participants make us proud of the seminar achievements and of the twenty years of its tradition and encourage us to further develop this fruitful initiative!

A follow-up publication with XX Summer Seminar proceedings will be compiled and published in the second half of 2019.

Last, but not least the EPI team would also like to express its gratitude to the participants, lecturers and supporters of the 20th anniversary edition of the Summer Seminar for Young Public Policy Professionals from South Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region.