On 18 of January 2021, EMA in partnership with Albanian Development Fund (ADF), Slovak Foreign Policy Association and supported by Slovak Aid organized Session 2 of Working Group IV focused on Chapter 22 within the framework of National Convention on European Integration Albania 2020-2021. The main topic of the activity was: “Management and Implementation bodies of EU funding programmes”.
Mr. Gledis Gjipali, the Executive Director of EMA, opened Session II for Working Group IV of the Convention. He started by thanking the participants and provided a brief summary about Session 1 of the Convention and linked it with the objectives of Session 2. Mr. Gjipali stated that projects funded by EU at this particular stage of Albanian’s EU integration process can open up new opportunities.
Mr. Ermal Ilirjani, the head of the Programming Unit at Albanian Development Fund (ADF) expressed his contentment to be part of this activity and emphasized the management role of ADF in the implementation of the Regional Development and Cohesion reforms that are being carried out by the Albanian government and follow under Chapter 22 of EU Acquis. Mr. Ilirjani showed interest in learning different suitable ways to present draft action documents within IPA III.
Mr. Florian Xhafa,internal expert of the Convention presented the launching of Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) III and its action plan. He pointed out that drafting of IPA III has started in 2018 and it ought to be implemented for seven years during the period 2021-2027 in Western Balkans and TurkeyMr. Xhafa underlined some of the innovations and new features introduced by IPA III including: The Budget which is increased (approx. 14.5 billion €; +13%) ,but at the same time there are no country allocations.
- There will be five thematic windows and there is no longer a mix of the specific objectives with policy areas.
- The monitoring and assessing process will be performance-based. Thus some performance indicators are introduced to better monitor the fulfilment of accession criteria and socio-economic reforms that are in the interest of the EU.
- There is introduced the fair share principle. Assistance shall be differentiated in scope and intensity according to needs, commitment to reforms and progress in implementing those reforms.
Additionally, Mr. Xhafa talked about the programming process. He indicated that the Albanian Government has started to prepare strategic responses and is currently on the submission of specific draft action documents stage. Furthermore, each document includes the objectives and the budget needed for the implementation of every specific project. Afterwards, the Commission evaluates the paperwork and sends an adequate feedback. The implementation of the programme starts as soon as a financial agreement is made. The presentation continued with IPA III – Thematic Windows versus Sectors highlighting the green agenda and sustainable connectivity. Mr. Xhafa added that unlike IPA II, IPA III does not have a specific budget for each country, which means that the countries should compete among them to absorb the funds.
Mr. Vladimir Benč, the Slovak expert held a presentation titled: “Management and Implementation bodies of funding programmes” highlighting the EU and Slovakia experience. He stated that the European Commission undertakes a detailed analysis of each Member State’s budgetary plan, its macroeconomic challenges and needs for structural reforms. It then provides national governments with proposals for Country – Specific Recommendations for the next 12-18 months. Mr. Benč also explained the programming and legislation from 2014-2022 on three levels: EU, National and National-Regional level. Moreover, he provided a detailed report on Slovakia’s case and objectives for 2021-2027. On top of that, Mr. Benč explained the whole procedure starting from policy decisions at the national level, continuing with the partnership agreement and ending with management and implementation. The various roles of Central Coordination Authority such as coordinating and guiding entities in the area of the ESIF management system; preparing a communication strategy template for OP; drawing up a Statute and Rules of Procedure of the National Monitoring Committee etc. were a captivating part of his presentation. Likewise, Mr. Benč went into specifics about the National Monitoring Committee which is responsible for periodic monitoring and evaluation of implementation of the cohesion policy goals and evaluation of efficiency of the activities pertaining to provision of grants from the ESIF. By the same token, he explained the main roles and tasks of the Managing Authority (MA). It was said that MA in Slovakia plays the role of a contracting authority and that MA can delegate the rights to so called intermediary bodies (IB). They can hire experts to evaluate the projects but do not have rights to select the project. IB can also conduct audits and on-site inspections. To conclude, Mr. Benč shared the software that enables all applicants to send their projects electronically in order to benefit ESI Funds.
You may watch the activity on YouTube in this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lbyphkQxFE&list=PLo5-u0UaQgmxnsrpqr63G8Zyhy_wgo-QX&index=2