Regional Development Programme in Albania (RDPA) III is a joint continuous effort to support the regional development reform in Albania, co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), implemented in partnership with the Government of Albania.
The main purpose of the RDPA programme is to reduce disparities in Albania by supporting the development of strong regions, so they can advance their potentials and provide better social and economic conditions for their citizens. The Government of Albania has acknowledged Regional Development as a priority and has taken a series of measures to significantly invest in this process at national and regional level in order to achieve the overall objective of the Albanian government concerning Regional Development: Increasing the competitiveness between regions, whilst ensuring sustainable socio-economic development of communities and creating a competitive and dynamic economy. In this context the Programme also aims to increase regional cohesion, reduce inequalities in resource utilization, productivity and social/environmental standards. This will increase management effectiveness and create an inclusive society with higher skills and better jobs for women and men.
The programme is a follow up of the Regional Development Programme in Northern Albania, which introduced new dimensions to the discussions on RD; providing a methodology for the establishment of the RD coordination mechanisms within the existing government structure and an approach to link sub-regional strategies to practical programme implementation that allows for the formulation of area based development strategies.
The first part of the programme tackles focuses on the support to the reform on regional development, based on the results of the bridging phase (draft policy and legal framework), such as the development of bylaws (legal framework), the follow-up on the new financial framework (new modality of Regional Development Fund), support in (vertical and horizontal) coordination and other areas, following demand by the central government.
During the second phase the support will be primarily addressed to the newly created structures – mainly to the National Agency for Regional Development and the four Regional Development Agencies; support is also directed to other institutions involved in Regional Development, such as regional and local stakeholders. Support includes strengthening the emerging institutional system of regional development agencies and the elaboration of Regional Development Programme and Operational Programmes in a participatory way.
The third phase of the programme is focused on the elaboration of a grant fund mechanism, including criteria for project selection; piloting of regional development projects to establish and test the new grants mechanism – anchored at the Regional Development Agencies by end of this programme and implemented through the same mechanism thereafter.
Regional Development Policy is also fundamental to the EU integration processes, as introduces Albania to the very same principles of EU Cohesion policy. The Programme will assist to implement strategic, regulatory, institutional and financial framework for Regional Development, which will contribute to accelerate the process of joining the EU.