Over the last few years, in parallel with the Schools’ Network gradual expansion, different Schools have been engaging in different bilateral or regional initiatives.

Regional initiatives in the Western Balkans

The Western Balkans Anti-Corruption Forum initiative was launched in 2016 by the Visegrád School of Political Studies in partnership with the Western Balkans part of the Network of Schools of Political Studies (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Serbia and “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”), with the objective of identifying the gaps in combating corruption in the Western Balkans, to share the V4 (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia) experiences in the field, and to equip participants with skills and knowledge required to improve anticorruption measures in their countries.

The Regional Academy for Democracy (RAD, 2013 - 2015) was a three year initiative of the 7 Western Balkan Schools of the Network, supported by the European Commission, the Balkan Trust for Democracy and the International Visegrád Fund. With the topic ‘Shaping the European Future of the Balkans - Building a New Political Culture and Poltical Elite’, it aimed to consolidate current democratisation processes and to build a new political culture and a new political elite in the region. It brought together young leading politicians as well as a number of the most outstanding mayors and regional leaders. Read more.

A regional initiative on 'Public Dialogue on the Sustainable Use of Energy in South-East Europe' (2010 - 2014) was launched to foster public dialogue on sustainable use of energy involving members of parliaments, governments, civil society, local representatives, the business sector and the media. The third phase of the Initiative was launched in 2014 with the 7 Western Balkans countries, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Baltic Environmental Forum Germany (BEF) signing a Memorandum of Understanding marking the official start of the third phase.

Regional initiatives in the South Mediterranean

The Schools of Political Studies of Tunisia and Morocco have joined forces to develop a regional dimension for the Schools in the South Mediterranean. To date, five Regional Seminars in the South Mediterranean (2013-2018) have been held, organised respectively by the Tunisian and the Moroccan Schools and funded by the Joint Programme “Strengthening the Democratic Reforms in the Southern Neighborhood”, financed by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe: “Understanding the Arab Spring and its impact” (Hammamet, November 2013), “Standards and tools to institutionalise policies of diversity in the Southern Mediterranean: for a negotiated transition towards democratic pluralism and human rights strengthening in the countries of the region” (Marrakesh, November 2014) and "Perspectives of participatory democracy at the local level (Hammamet, November 2015); “Democracy and climate change: Possible South-South and North-South partnerships to stabilise transition in the South-Mediterranean” (Marrakesh, November 2016) ; and "Migration in the Euro-Med region" (Hammamet, October 2017).

By bringing together participants from the two Schools as well as representatives from different countries of the Mediterranean region, in particular from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania and Yemen, the regional seminars have become an annual platform for exchanges and debates between civil society activists, academics, and experts in the fields of political science and human rights on key challenges to the consolidation of democratic processes in the region. They provide very rare occasions for civil society dialogue in the troubled Northern African region and compensate the impossibility to set up Schools in any of the other Maghreb countries due to authoritarian systems and/or political instability.

The Summer Academy for Strengthening Democracy in the Euro-Med Region is a joint initiative of the Bulgarian School of Politics “Dimitry Panitza”, the Citizenship School of Political Studies in Morocco and the Tunisian School of Politics. The Academy has already taken place three times in Bulgaria, in 2014, 2015 and 2016. It was supported by the Programme “Strengthening the Democratic Reforms in the Southern Neighborhood”, financed by the European Union and implemented by the Council of Europe.

The Academy is part of the regional peer-support programme developed by the Schools, by which more experienced schools share with the new ones experience and methodology for training of young leaders and to sustain their efforts for institutional capacity building during the transition to multi-party democracy. The goal of the Academy is to stimulate the debate and the active exchange of ideas for democratic development and good practices among representatives of the political and civic sector of both sides of the Mediterranean. It was also focused on improving their skills to work in a multi-cultural environment and on building a network of young leaders from political parties and civil society from the three countries.

Eastern Partnership Projects

The Eastern Partnership Programme (EaP) has been launched by the Visegrád School of Political Studies to share the collective and individual V4 democratic transition experience with young political, social and government leaders from Eastern Partnership countries. The ”V4 meets EaP” project brought together 120 participants over 2 years from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine for week-long seminars focusing on EU integration, civil society development and general transition experience.

Visegrád Group

The Visegrád School of Political Studies is a joint project of the Council of Europe and the European Academy of Diplomacy in Warsaw. It is regional by its nature as participants are recruited from the four countries of the Visegrád Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovak Republic). The School aims to establish a regional network of like-minded leaders, ready to take on greater responsibility for a more mature political culture in central Europe and stronger leadership within the European Union. It brought the Schools network an important extension to Central Europe.

Pan-European projects

A pan-European project, which also included the alumni dimension was launched in May 2016: the Civic Round Table brought together high level alumni from the Schools along with a number of young leaders from Western European countries, to study trends and challenges, and to experiment with various ways to forge better civics across Europe.

Bilateral cooperation

At the time of creation of the Tunisian School of Politics, the Bulgarian School of Politics (BSoP) has been providing methodological assistance and helping in capacity building. In 2012 and 2013, BSoP implemented three projects through which it provided its colleagues from Tunisia with its methodology for practical training of political and civic leaders, with the main focus on building a specific set of skills necessary for successful and inclusive work in multi-party environment.

The Bulgarian School of Politics and the Citizenship School of Political Studies in Morocco established a partnership within the framework of their membership in the Network of Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe. At the end of 2013, an agreement for strategic partnership between both organizations was signed. The main goals are provision of methodological and institutional support from BSoP to assist CSPS’s capacity building, exchange of experience on different topics of democratic development, as well as continuous sharing of experience with other countries in Western Africa. In November 2014, the two Schools signed a three-year framework for co-operation. The document confirms the continuation of the support provided by the BSoP to further institutional capacity building of the Moroccan School through joint projects, regional initiatives and activities between alumni of both Schools.

In December 2014,   the Bulgarian School of Politics held a “Training of Trainers” seminar for experts and alumni of the Ukrainian School of Political Studies. This was the first time the Schools’ Network had organised such an event and it underlined the deepening know–how exchanges between Schools. Funded by the Council of Europe’s ‘Ukraine Immediate Measures Package’, the seminar aimed at sharing the 13–year practice of the Bulgarian School in training political and civic leaders and at providing methodological support for the Ukrainian School of Political Studies.

World Forum for Democracy

The World Forum for Democracy is also a good opportunity for Schools for regional and bilateral exchanges.  In addition to the main programme, special side events include regional and bilateral meetings are organised for more than 500 School participants year by year.

* [1] All references to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.