RDPA provides technical assistance to the Government of Albania to prepare for Chapter 22 Negotiations

Albania’s journey towards the European Union has begun since the early 2000, and materialized with the application for EU membership on April 28th 2009. The Council of the European Union, in June 2014, decided to grant Albania the status of a candidate country for membership in the European Union. Since then, Albania is making preparatory work to open the negotiations with the EU, and working in parallel in different chapters of the Acquis.

In this regard, Chapter 22 “Regional Policy and Coordination of structural instruments” is one of the core chapters of the Acquis and is gaining relatively higher attention from the Albanian Government. The acquis under this chapter consists mostly of the framework which defines the rules for drawing up Cohesion Policy  in view of implementing Structural Funds, reflecting each country’s territorial organization. The chapter becomes, even more important considering that (future) Member States must have an institutional framework in place and adequate administrative capacity to ensure programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation in a sound and cost-effective manner from the point of view of management and financial control.

Under these circumstances, the Deputy Minister of Interior in Albania has been assigned as the national coordinator for Chapter 22, and the Agency for Supporting Local Government (ASLG) was asked to play the role of the technical secretariat in this process. In the meantime, as the GoA is being supported by the Swiss and Austrian governments, through the Regional Development Programme in Albania (RDPA) – and because one of the main objectives of RDPA is to support a reform in line with the EU best practices and EU Cohesion Policy – the Deputy Minister of Interior and the ASLG director asked the support of RDPA for the process of preparatory work for Chapter 22.

From 23 to 29 June 2022, three international experts, who participated in the Chapter 22 negotiations of their respective countries (Ireland, Bulgaria and Croatia) visited Albania to share their experiences with the Government of Albania on the management and implementation requirements of the Cohesion Policy of the European Union and to be better prepared for negotiation of the chapter 22 “Regional Policy and coordination of structural funds”.

The RDPA experts had meetings with the key Albanian institutions that will be dealing, directly or indirectly, with the Chapter 22 negotiations, namely the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Finance (who is also be dealing with the related Chapters 8, 32 and 33), SASPAC (Donor Aid Coordination Agency) and the Albanian Development Fund (ADF).

An experience sharing presentation for the Inter-Institutional Working Group (IIWG) on Chapter 22 was provided, as well as a general training on Cohesion Policy and Structural Funds for ADF staff. The technical assistance will be visiting Albania on- demand by the Albanian Government until March 2023.