There are significant differences between universities in the EU and higher education institutions in non-EU countries in terms of the administrative and institutional capacities that condition the successful fulfilment of the main tasks of legal research and education. Individual efforts and achievements of scholars from non-EU countries are, by rule, not accompanied by matching administrative and institutional structures. The practice of European universities is to gather individual researchers in stable organizational forms that allow for a fruitful exchange of ideas within a field of study. This enables cooperation between researchers, enhances scientific output backed by strong administrative units capable of supporting the scientific staff and applying for funds necessary for caring out projects and realizing research plans. In this respect, the Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade (BGL) is lagging, and such situation hampers a forward-looking planning in the areas of both scientific research and legal education.

The main objective of ALF Project is to help the BGL to become a widely known and sought-after top-class European research and teaching institution, both raising its research and teaching profile and strengthening its research management and administrative skills, that Belgrade has the seeds to thrive. This objective will be achieved through a thorough and extensive three-year-long transferral of foundational knowledge, both academic and administrative, from three leading research institutions at the European Level: Instituto de Ciencias Juridico Politicas da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Lisboa (ICJP/FDUL), University of Genoa (UniGe), and University of Surrey (US). The structural idea behind ALF is that the transferral of foundational academic knowledge is crucial for the BGL to significantly improve its reputation, presence, and overall success in European and international legal academy (see 1.2). Being renowned and strong research institutions both at the European and international level in this field, the ICJP/FDUL, UniGe and US are particularly fitting for the purpose of achieving the main objective of ALF. Regarding academic expertise all three institutions have solid research backgrounds, well-known top research staff especially well-versed in foundational topics of law, established and highly active research groups, and extensive networks and contacts with other top-class research institutions. Regarding administrative expertise, all three institutions have highly developed administrative structures, as well as specialised and experienced offices for national, European, and international project and event management (for extensive information on this point, see 3.2).

Intrinsically connected to the main objective, the individual objectives of the ALF project are: 1) Transferring foundational administrative and logistic knowledge from Partner Institutions to Belgrade; 2) Transferring foundational legal knowledge from Partner Institutions to Belgrade; 3) Set the foundations for Belgrade to start carrying out autonomous and innovative research in the domain of legal fundamentals; 4) Solidly and permanently integrating Belgrade in the Partner Institutions’ vast European and international network; 5) Creating, establishing, and developing necessary specialised administrative and logistic structures in Belgrade (Project Administration Office and Centre for Legal Fundamentals), and 6) Disseminating the activities and results of the ALF project and the research project in order to reach both specific stakeholders and the general public and to contribute to making Belgrade known as a centre for basic legal knowledge.

The ALF Project will meet the following objectives of the Twinning action, each of which is pertinent to the work programme topic: a) Improving excellence capacity and resources in Widening countries enabling to close the still apparent research and innovation gap within Europe. The ALF Project will establish a strong partnership of Belgrade and three leading EU institutions, known by their expertise on substantive topics related to the legal fundamentals and by their logistic, administrative and management experience and prowess. The knowledge transfer and exchange of best practices will be brought about through participation in joint research activities, international conferences, joint publications and research groups and a joint research project, as well as through increased mobility (inwards and outwards) of highly qualified academic and administrative experts by means of short-term staff exchanges, etc. [WP 2, 3, 4 and 5]. The results of this partnership will also benefit other Widening countries, especially in the Balkan region, through new or already established inter-Balkan networks where Belgrade plays – or would play – a prominent role. b) Enhancing networking activities between Belgrade and top-class leading counterparts at EU level. ALF will bring about enhanced strategic networking activities between one research institution of a Widening Country, BLG, and three internationally leading counterparts at EU and international level: ICJP/FDUL, UniGe, and US. Each of these institutions is also part of wide networks on their own, to which BGL will potentially gain access though this partnership. The networking activities resulting from this partnership will foster regional integration and convergence between Belgrade and the European Union, enabling BGL to move forward towards the closure of the apparent research and innovation gap within Europe. c) Raising the reputation, research profile and attractiveness of BGL and the research profile of its staff. The involvement in the project will help BGL to contribute to key areas of research in several fields of study, and to rise the research profile and attractiveness of BGL, and the research profile of its staff. The participation in joint research activities [WP 3, 4, 5] will lead BGL staff to learn and/or deepen knowledge about methodology of research, as well as generate new research questions and new knowledge. The expected research publications [WP 3, 4, 5, 6] – submitted to well-known scientific publishers – will help BGL members become better known in EU and non-EU academy and raise their research profile and BGL reputation. ALF will also help strengthening the research management and administrative skills of the coordinating institution in the process of forming a Project Administration Office (PAO) and research Centre for Legal Fundamentals (CLF) [WP 2]. d) Stepping up and stimulating scientific excellence and innovation capacity in a defined area of research as well as the scientific quality of the partners involved in the twinning exercise. The area of research in which ALF project aims to enhance Belgrade’s academic capacities is focused on three interconnected foundational pillars of law: the logic of law, the language of law, and practical law and practical rationality. The outline of the scientific strategy for stepping up and stimulating scientific excellence and innovation capacity in this area of research consists in the creation of (a) learning opportunities (summer/winter schools, workshops, expert visiting and on site and virtual training, shadowing expert researchers, etc.) [WP 3, 4, 5]; (b) common research opportunities (joint publications, short-term exchanges for researchers from Belgrade, etc.) [see WP 3, 4, 5, 6]; (c) networking opportunities (international conferences, etc.) [WP 3, 4, 5, 6]. ALF will promote scientific excellence and innovation capacity through the establishing, development, and completion of a novel joint research project on the topic “Practically orientated legal fundamentals” [WP 6]. e) Strengthening the research management and administration skills of the coordinating institution from the Widening country. A whole WP [WP2] is dedicated to strengthening the research management and administration skills of Belgrade, culminating in a) the creation of a specific research management/administration unit within the BGL: the Project Administration Office (PAO) and b) the establishment of a discrete research unit – Centre for Legal Fundamentals (CLF) – that will act as a organizational unit for project research activities and further research activities in the domain of legal fundamentals. A full description of specific activities that will help Belgrade administrative staff to improve their proposal preparation and project management/administration skills, as well as the type and depth of the participation of ICJP/FDUL, UniGe and US, can be found in WP2.

All these objectives are easily measurable and verifiable. The transfer of academic knowledge to Belgrade can be measured and verified through: a) The quantity and duration of short-time staff exchanges and on site and virtual training offered to young Belgrade scholars; b) The quantity of Belgrade scholar’s participation in research activities carried out by Partner Institutions; c) The quantity of joint scientific publications and the quality of the publishing journal where at least one author is affiliated to Belgrade; d) The online platform ALF-WP where summaries and short lecture videos of expert visits to Belgrade will be published; etc. In regard to the transferring logistic knowledge to Belgrade and the strengthening Belgrade capacities in administration and organization of international projects, it can be measured and verified though: a) The quantity and duration of short-time staff exchanges and on site and virtual training offered to Belgrade administrative staff; b) The effective creation, establishing, and development of PAO; c) The establishment and functioning of CLF as a unit for organizing research activities; d) Different submissions to EU project calls, coordinated or lead by Belgrade, in the next three years; etc.

All ALF project objectives are realistically achievable, especially through the Partner Institutions’ close collaboration with BGL. In particular, the Partner Institutions will allow BGL access to their ongoing research activities, including conferences, workshops, and so on. As well as this, the Partner Institutions will allow BGL full access to their research resources, providing Belgrade members with a rich and prepared context to research and produce new knowledge. The Partner Institutions will periodically receive Belgrade academic and administrative staff members on site (for the detailed plan, see 3.1).