National Resource Center for Civil Society in Albania: Opening of Accession Negotiations with the EU – Inclusion of Civil Society Actors in Key Structures and Phases of the Negotiation Process, May 16, 2023, Vlora

On May 16, 2023, EMA organized a workshop in Vlora with the theme “of Accession Negotiations with the EU – Inclusion of Civil Society Actors in Key Structures and Phases of the Negotiation Process” as part of the National Resource Center for Civil Society in Albania implemented by Partners Albania for Change and Development, in collaboration with the European Movement in Albania and the Albanian Center for Population and Development. The activity took place in Vlora and was focused primarily on the negotiation process, the role of main institutions, paying particular attention to the inclusion and the role that civil society actors can and should play in this process, as well as the opportunities for funding and the main grant programs of the European Union to support civil society. With the participation of 15 representatives from organizations and associations active in Vlora, the activity aimed to increase their awareness and build their capacities in issues related to the decision-making process, good governance, and policy-making within the country’s reform process driven by integration into the EU.
The meeting was opened by Enela Mone, Coordinator of the National Resource Center for Civil Society in Vlora, who presented the objectives and goals of the National Resource Center, with particular attention to the development of activities in cities beyond Tirana. One component of the Resource Center is also the strengthening of capacities and knowledge of SCOs regarding the European integration process and negotiations, which is being achieved through trainings and workshops, such as the meeting held in Vlora, aiming to further strengthen their technical knowledge and to increase their contribution to the negotiation process with the EU.
Nirvana Deliu, Project Coordinator at the European Movement in Albania, gave a presentation on the negotiation process, focusing on the level of progress and Albania’s preparedness for the year 2022, for the 33 chapters of the Acquis that will be negotiated with the EU, based on the assessments of the European Commission’s Report published in October 2022. Special attention was given to Cluster 1, which consists of five chapters, including Chapters 23 and 24, considered as two fundamental but challenging chapters of this process. Another important point during her presentation was the presentation and description of the methodology and implementation of Progress Reports and Albania’s Preparation for Chapters 23, 24, and the Political Criterion, carried out by researchers from EMA within the Resource Center.
The next session was addressed by Geron Kamberi, an Expert on European Integration, who presented the role of civil society and the opportunities for inclusion in Albania’s accession to the EU. He explained various topics such as the screening process (how explanatory meetings, bilateral meetings, and reporting are organized and developed). In the case of Albania, which officially started negotiations on July 19, 2022, he emphasized that Albania is currently in the phase of bilateral meetings, which are expected to be concluded by the end of this year, while the European Commission’s Screening Report for Chapter Group 1 – Fundamental Issues is expected to be published during the May-June 2023 period. An important element during his presentation was the description of the negotiation structure established in 2019 and updated in subsequent years, with particular attention given to the Platform of Partnership for European Integration (PPIE) as the only space where civil society actors can be involved and engaged, can give contribution through discussions, can provide recommendations, and can monitor the negotiation process. In conclusion, he underlined that the involvement of CSOs in the process is crucial to represent the interests of the target groups and to offer their expertise, which would result in an effective process.
In the last session, Geron Kamberi talked about the opportunities for support and grants from the EU for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). He explained in detail the possibilities for funding and projects from the European Union for CSOs in Albania, with a special focus on the IPA funds as dedicated funds for candidate countries. He also provided practical advice to interested actors on how to stay informed and get prepared for successful applications for these EU calls. The programming framework of IPA III extensively refers to support for civil society, both in cross-sectoral and specific thematic priorities. He also listed several EU Community Programs in which Albania participates as an associated country, including Erasmus+, Creative Europe, Horizon Europe, and others.
A dedicated space for discussion with the participants marked the end of this meeting, where questions and comments came from the attendees, particularly those interested in opportunities for involvement in the PPIE and possibilities for grants from EU funds.