Regional Development in Albania in the loop of EU integration
By Carl Heller / RDPA Team Leader
Based on the latest development regarding potentially opening accession talks for EU membership in 2019, possible EU membership is becoming a tangible reality for Albania.
Regional disparities in the process of transition and accession to the European Union pose a complex development problem for Albania, due to negative demographic trends and economic disproportions of certain regions in the country, but also disparities concerning the EU member states average.
The aims of stimulating regional development, which is grounded on the European standards and principles is required to be established as basic directions for regional growth, thus aiming at the achievement of a more balanced regional development and towards more efficient exploitation of natural and economic potentials in regions, in order to create more favorable conditions for economic growth and investments in those regions.
Based on this, Regional Development issues become particularly interesting in the circumstances of unfavorable migration trends and an increase in disparities among developed and undeveloped regions, especially between the core and the periphery. For defining and meeting priority targets of Albanian regional policy, it is necessary to consider the postulates of the EU regional policy for the period, whose basic objectives are reducing convergence and strengthening regional competitiveness and employment. In that context, especially in the accession period, it is important to consider the main principles of financing regional development in the European Union, as well as developing, building and testing in this period institutional, instrumental structures and mechanism for a future, to be in line with the commitments of the European Union, according to which territorial, economic and social cohesion, treated as an efficient instrument for stimulating overall development of the country.
Another key point is that, although the date of EU integration is not yet known, preparations cannot wait that this date is decided. Generally, the date of accession is decided only one year in advance, while preparations last for several years. This means that Albanian institutions are to continue and multiply their efforts to develop capacity to manage and deliver the EU competitiveness and (territorial) cohesion policy. This requires the parallel development of delivery capacity in all institutions at all levels of Government – central, deconcentrated and local.
The RDPA Programme concerning Regional Development in Albania, can be in particular seen as an important part of the mechanism in assessing and supporting the capacity of local and regional shareholders to add value to the competitiveness and cohesion policy.