National Framework for Regional Development: a new Approach at Reducing Regional Disparities

National Framework for Regional Development: a new Approach at Reducing Regional Disparities

March 2019

The discussion on Regional Development in Albania has gone on and off several times during the last sixteen year, affected both by the difficulty of undertaking reforms to address disparities and the need to achieve the EU requirements. Though receiving high priority from the GoA, the regional development reform has faced major challenges especially these last years, starting from the un-clarity of the institutional set up and role of different institution in this process to a lack of a proper vision and focus of the regional development Policy.

As a cross-cutting approach, Regional Development will need to mobilize and harmonies the efforts of many national, regional and local actors, mainly but not exclusively public, in their role as important contributors to various stages in regional development, to adopt  a development based model which stimulates the internal territorial potentials of the regions and ensures the diffusion of development (from stronger centers to the entire territory).

In this context the preparation of the Regional Development Policy in Albania, a process assisted and supported by RDPA, aims at addressing the key challenges and development obstacles that the country needs to overcome. The proposed National Framework for Regional Development is Albania’s strategic planning document to be approved by the Government (CoM), and drafted under the responsibility of Deputy Prime-Minister in partnership with various line ministries and other relevant stakeholders at national and regional level.

The National Framework for Regional Development (NFRD) outlines the strategic objectives and defines the key milestones and priorities related to Regional Development for the next 8 years.

Taking into account the regional development discussion in Albania these several years, and in order to address the current domestic challenges toward socio-economic development, the Framework will completely re-formulate the approach towards regional policy in terms of ways of establishing relevant goals and principles based on EU-best practices (such as subsidiarity, equal opportunities, sustainability, geographic and thematic concentration etc.). As such the NFRD will represent the most important cross-sectorial, area-focused planning document in the field of Regional Development, which will link a range of central government ministries with related partners and institutions across the country.

In broader terms this Framework will contribute to the overall national growth most notably in those parts of the country which are lagging behind compared to the more prosperous ones and consequently will reduce the economic and social disparities between different parts of the country.

The NFRD will build on the gained experience and lessons learned from the past national policies and strategic documents, on which RDPA has conducted a process of assessing and evaluating regional and local priorities, and in addition would aim to bring a new approach and innovative policy on the sustainable regional development based on the particular needs and features that each region is owning.

More in details, the NFRD provides a thorough approach on how to align domestic regional development plans with EU-funding programmes which are an important source for achieving Albania regional development priorities and goals. This will create the synergy to combine different funding sources for achieving regional development goals and objectives. In this regards, the whole strategy is oriented on opportunities and needs investments in each region.

Considering the past difficulties to implement regional development key strategic documents and long-term policies, the NFRD will also define the relevant institutional and organizational infrastructure including the financial mechanisms or incentives for the achievement of regional goals and objectives. Furthermore the NFRD will contain detailed instruments for the monitoring and evaluation of the policy, so it can be able to assess the implementation of the Framework year after year.

In this context the implementation of NFRD, will constitute a guide on how to stimulate the country’s economic and social development will be  and contribute to the achievement of the key objectives related to economic and social cohesion such as reducing regional disparities.