Summer Seminar 2021

Summer Seminars » Summer Seminar 2021

SS2021 news

The traditional regional initiative of the Economic Policy Institute – the Summer Seminar for Young Public Policy Professionals, was held in 6-10 September 2021 in Albena. The 21st edition of the international forum focusing on “Exploring Post-COVID Recovery Scenarios for Central and South-Eastern Europe” was made possible thanks to the kind financial support of the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Central European Initiative and the Austrian Embassy in Bulgaria.

The XXI Summer Seminar provoked a great interest and resulted in the submission of more than 90 applications from young professionals from Central and South-Eastern Europe (CESEE). Due to the COVID-19 restriction measures, this year’s forum was designed to host up to 30 young experts who have been selected after a competitive process aiming to ensure an appropriate group dynamics and an optimal balance in terms of professional and educational background, motivation, country of origin, gender, etc. Thus, the XXI Summer Seminar allowed the participation of professionals from EU and non-EU countries in the CESEE region coming from various public policy backgrounds – public administration structures, think-tanks and academia.

The agenda of the five-day forum included a well-balanced mixture of on-site and online lectures from reputable local and foreign speakers along with interactive sessions facilitated by EPI. Topics covered at the 2021 Summer Seminar were grouped in the following thematic panels, a workshop on good governance and a specially designed series of scenario-building foresight sessions:

  • Panel I: “Is It Tomorrow Yet?”. Reflections on the New Normal;
  • Panel II: The EU Post-COVID Recovery Agenda. Keep it Green and Digital;
  • Panel III: Embracing Connectivity and Regional Cooperation. Bringing the EU Enlargement Process Back on Track;
  • Panel IV: The Geopolitics of Change. Europe & CESEE on the Global Scene;
  • Panel V: Destination Future. What Comes Next?;
  • Session: Good Governance in the Aftermath of COVID-19;
  • Foresight Sessions: CESEE Navigating Uncertainty.

Each speaker’s presentation was followed by a live or hybrid Q&A session, which led fruitful discussions despite the anti-pandemic constraints that prevented some speakers from attending the forum physically.  

The team of the Economic Policy Institute extends its words of gratitude to all the speakers for their valuable contribution to the success of the XXI Summer Seminar:

  • András Inotai, Honorary President, Economic Policy Institute, Budapest;
  • Ingrid Shikova, Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski”;
  • Ivaylo Iaydjiev, PhD, Policy Officer - Recovery and Resilience Task Force at European Commission;
  • Louisa Slavkova, Executive Director, Sofia Platform, Sofia;
  • François Lafond, Special Adviser, Secretariat for European Affairs, Republic of North Macedonia;
  • Sebastian Schäffer, Managing Director, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe, Vienna;
  • Velina Tchakarova, Head of Institute, Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES), Vienna;
  • Oana Popescu, Director, Global Focus Center, Bucharest/ Fellow, Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Vienna;
  • Plamen Tonchev, Head of Asia Unit, Institute for International Economic Relations, Athens/ Representative, European Think-tank Network on China;
  • Iliya Lingorski, Chief Economist, The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria.

Besides obtaining new insights and food for thought during the panel sessions, the participants took part in three rounds of specially designed foresight sessions on the topic “Central and South-Eastern Europe Navigating Uncertainty”. As a result, participants were divided into six teams who had to prepare various scenarios for the future of Western Balkans, CESEE and EU by 2026 and 2030.

The feedback gathered formally and informally both from speakers and participants during and after the XXI Summer Seminar proved once again that the Summer Seminar is highly appreciated and fruitful regional initiative, contributing not only to enhancing the regional cooperation but also providing opportunity for an effective cooperation and networking among young professionals from a region that is still lagging behind in terms of physical and person-to person connectivity.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) would like to express its sincere gratitude to the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Central European Initiative and the Austrian Embassy in Bulgaria for the continuous support the Summer Seminar initiative!