TRAIN Programme 2013: Call for Applications

Description: 20 February 2013
Open to: Think tanks with a clear policy-oriented approach that focus on national, regional and/or international politics
Grant: All travel and accommodation expenses related to the participation in the programme will be covered + each policy paper will be awarded a 500€ grant


The TRAIN programme (Think Tanks providing Research and Advice through Interaction and Networking) seeks to foster a fruitful policy dialogue between think tanks and political actors in the Western Balkans (i.e. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia). Especially with a view to the European integration process, the voice of regional think tanks and their impact upon national policy-making must be strengthened and their visibility and credibility vis-à-vis EU actors enhanced. In order to build the necessary institutional capacity in the countries concerned and to support networking within the region as well as in Brussels, the programme focuses on four areas:

  • Training to build upon and enhance existing capacities;
  • Regional co-operation to exchange good practices;
  • Interaction with national political actors to influence policy debates;
  • Networking with EU actors to increase visibility on the Brussels stage.

Target group

The TRAIN programme aims to support think tanks with a clear policy-oriented approach that focus on national, regional and/or international politics. Key aspects for the selection of participating institutes will be:

  • Centrality of EU integration and related issues to the work of the think tank;
  • Research capacity and professionalism as demonstrated through regular publications containing specific policy recommendations to decision-makers;
  • Experience in communicating results of their research to relevant actors such as national parliaments, national media, and political parties.

The programme is open to teams of two researchers from either the same think tank or two different think tanks from the Western Balkans region. Participating research teams will be expected to draft a policy paper closely related to a topic relevant to the EU integration process of their respective country and containing concrete advice and policy options. Participating researchers should be full employees of their respective think tank and should commit to the programme for its entire duration. Junior researchers actively engaged in the drafting of the policy paper will be given precedence over more established staff members.

Programme content

The TRAIN programme is divided into four key stages:

  1. An introductory regional seminar will offer the occasion to set the research agenda, exchange good practices, and begin networking. Targeted workshops will aim to enhance existing capacities with regard to the drafting of policy papers, media relations, and efficient dissemination strategies. This will set the stage for individual work on a policy paper dealing
    with a topic relevant to the EU integration process and containing concrete advice and policy options.
  2. A mid-term seminar in Berlin will allow for reviewing of the draft policy papers and discussion with relevant actors from the German policy scene on the chosen topics. Participants will receive feedback on both the content and structure of their papers and will be able to discuss regional best practices.
  3. A wrap-up seminar in Brussels will allow the participating think tanks to present their findings to EU decision-makers and thus to establish contacts with relevant Brussels actors. They will discuss their policy papers with actors from different EU institutions (European Commission, European Parliament and Council of Ministers) and Brussels-based organisations and receive input in view of the dissemination of their results to national policy-makers.
  4. The dissemination stage of the programme will take place at the national level and should bring together key decision-makers from the Parliament and relevant ministries. Building upon the findings in the policy papers, think tanks should establish a fruitful policy dialogue and actively feed their ideas into the policy process. The dissemination activities will be open
    to participants from the German embassies and political foundations on the ground. A final summary of the activities will be sent to the organisers in the form of a report at the end of the programme period.

Key benefits

The main benefits of the TRAIN programme lie in the capacity-building workshops and the networking opportunities awarded to two researchers from each participating think tank. All travel and accommodation expenses related to the participation in the programme will be borne or reimbursed by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP). While no direct payments towards salaries can be made, each policy paper will be awarded a 500€ grant. Furthermore, the layout and printing of the final policy paper can be subsidised with up to 250€ (upon presentation of the printing receipt).

Programme outline

  • Application deadline: 20 February 2013
  • Selection decision communicated to applicants: 4 March 2013
  • Programme duration: March – December 2013
  • Regional Seminar: 14-17 April 2013
  • Draft papers submitted by: early June 2013
  • Berlin Seminar: mid-June 2013
  • Final papers submitted by: 30 September 2013
  • Brussels Seminar: mid-October 2013
  • Dissemination of results to national decision-makers: October/November 2013
  • Final report due: 29 November 2013

How to apply

Applications should include a completed application form indicating the following:

  • General and contact information concerning the applicant;
  • A description of the envisaged policy paper topic explaining its relevance in the national/regional context and its importance for the EU integration process;
  • A concrete dissemination strategy detailing how the obtained results will be communicated to national policy makers (parliamentarians, government representatives etc.) and media;
  • A brief description of the think tank history, structures and existing publication formats;
  • CVs from the two prospective programme participants (max. two pages each, including information on the applicant’s education, relevant work experience and publications).

To apply, please send all required documents by 20 February 2013 at the latest via email to Theresia Toeglhofer ( The subject line should read “Application: [name of think tank]”.

The official website.

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