On 21 June 2018 AER Secretariat was in Korçë (AL) for the EU Funding Seminars. Hosted by our member region Korçë, we had the pleasure to meet and discuss with each 12 Albanian regions.
The event gave the opportunity to highlight the role regional cooperation can have and to develop on Programmes and Funding opportunities Albanian regions can have access to.
The power of regions
The event began with introduction speeches which highlighted the importance of regions, interregional cooperation and work within a network.
While Mathieu Mori reminded that working together is helpful to make progress in access negotiations, Aldrin Dalipi, President of Tirana and President of the Albanian regions association illustrated the importance of involving all actors of an area and showed how Korçë is a symbol of a city that has succeeded in mobilising different funds for the urban development.
The Mayor of Korça, Sotiraq Filo presented various challenges Albanian municipality faced towards EU standards but also his satisfaction towards the cooperation the city has achieved with different municipalities thanks to EU funds. This perfectly embodied how fundings and cooperation contribute to one another.
Finally Brian Greenslade stated the role of regions to deliver services to citizens is underestimated. As AER is defending, regions need to be better recognised.
Programmes & Funding opportunities
The key point of the event was programmes and funding opportunities Albanian regions can have access to.
Apart from Erasmus+, Horizon 2020, COSME, Europe for citizens, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs displayed several cooperation programmes. On one side, cross-border cooperation programmes were presented, which includes bilateral programmes with Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece. It is worth noting that for each of this bilateral programmes, specific objectives are targeted. For example, with Greece, the objectives are cross border cooperation and regional sustainability, and within the first call, 4 projects are to be implemented. On the other side, transnational programmes were highlighted, which includes the Adriatic-Ionion, the Interreg Balkan Mediterranean or the Interreg Med.
Following this presentation, all members had the chance to get an overview of the access to EU Funding in Albania. First of all, only 1/3 of cities have access to EU funding. The current challenge for Albania is to build capacity and inform relevant actors about funding opportunities. Jolanda Trebicka, team leader of the Municipality for Europe project also highlighted good practices to disseminate information on EU Funding. Thus local coordinator inform local community, information offices are in contact with Ministries in Europe and thus have information before calls are published and some events are organised: for example in Tirana practices of project managers were displayed to involve more stakeholders in projects.
Eventually AER Secretariat was happy to share how they can contribute in helping regions to access and submit project proposals.
To take away
Informing about opportunities is important to allow regions, local communities and various stakeholders to benefit from the funding opportunities. Albanian regions and municipalities have access to various funding opportunities and this event was one tool to raise awareness.
This event was a successful moment for AER and Albanian regions to get to know each other, for mutual learning and sharing of experiences.
As Brian Greenslade conclude, make out the most from the network and remember that together regions are stronger.