Mar 24, 2021

CEF Advisory Board Chair Shares Reflections on Our Successful Cooperation

Ms. Andreja Jerina, the national coordinator for EU macro-regional strategies at the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been involved with the CEF in different capacities. Ms. Jerina is currently chairing the CEF Advisory Board which assists in designing and in coordinating the delivery of our activities. In our anniversary year, we were intrigued to learn what are in her opinion some of the highlights of our long and successful cooperation over the years.

How do you see the CEF’s growth from the times of your first engagement with us until today, when we are 20 years “old”?

My engagement with the CEF is almost as old as the CEF. I have had the privilege to observe how a sparkling idea started to develop, grow, institutionalize, internationalize and eventually become a leader of change. This intensive growth path has worked on two levels simultaneously; developing the CEF as a center of excellence and a knowledge hub in the region but also internally, transforming theory into practice.

You’ve been a member of our Advisory Board and a dear friend of the CEF for many years now. Our staff has fond memories of a task that you once gave the participants at the IPA Funds workshop when they all got the same instructions on how to fold and cut a piece of paper, yet everybody got different results. But if you were to pick three most memorable (interesting/amusing etc.) events or moments in your encounters with us, what would they be?

During one of the IPA Funds seminar, I borrowed 50€ from a participant. At the end of the day, he asked me to return it. I offered three 50€ banknotes and asked him to pick his own, non-EU one. The participant was puzzled, saying that there is no difference between EU and non-EU 50€ banknotes. I concluded that there is also no difference in sound financial management principles in EU and non-EU – we should all follow the same. I learned afterwards that this was the strongest takeaway of the seminar.

I spent a year in Moldova as EU High Level Adviser on Aid Coordination. The Aid Coordination team was young, ambitious, very committed and with an immense workload. They were in constant shortage of time. Once I passed their office and saw all of them around one computer, then heard a familiar voice and realized that they are all following a CEF webinar in spite of time pressure. My first thought was: this shows that the CEF really brings value to its participants.

One weekend, I was invited to participate at a pilot training for the CEF staff on modern art and something with company functioning. Two very different things with no connection for me. After the first day, a homework assignment followed: we all had to create a piece of art and present it the next morning. The level of creativity of the participants was just amazing. Apparently, we all have immense creativity potential if we find ways to bring it to the surface. And this is what the CEF is doing, unlocking creativity within individuals and institutions.

Which initiatives or topics that are in the focus of the MoFA Slovenia could the CEF implement more in its future learning programs?

The CEF is, based on close cooperation, efficiently contributing to Official Development Aid policy orientation in Slovenia. It often tops up Slovenian bilateral efforts. For the future, we appreciate the CEF’s openness to enhance their activities in potential new CEF members, rounding up a multi-country approach which often proves to be more efficient than single country efforts. Focusing on an enabling environment that is ready for changes and reforms is meaningful contribution in the Western Balkan region and its neighbourhood, as it brings stability and progress. Relevance and mutual respect create trust – the foundation for sustainable change.