National Resource Center for Civil Society in Albania: Possibilities for Support and Grants from the EU for Civil Society, 23 June 2023, Shkodra

On June 23, 2023, EMA organized a workshop on the topic “Possibilities for Support and Grants from the EU for Civil Society” as part of the National Resource Center for Civil Society in Albania, supported by the European Union and 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 was held at the ARKA center in Shkodra which focused on the funding opportunities and key grant programs of the European Union to support civil society, in the areas of democracy, human rights, youth, education and research, and also regional cooperation. With the participation of 20 representatives of active organizations and associations in Shkodra, the activity aimed to increase their awareness and enhance their capacities regarding the support and funding opportunities from the European Union.

The meeting was opened by Arbana Halili, Coordinator of the National Resource Center for CSOs in Shkodra, who presented the objectives of the National Resource Center. She explained the main pillars on which the Resource Center (NRC) is based and the various activities that this initiative is carrying out, focusing not only on Tirana but also on other cities of Albania such as Shkodra, Elbasan, and Vlora. One component of the Resource Center is the capacity building and knowledge of CSOs on the European integration process and negotiations, and this is being done through training and workshops, such as the meeting held in Shkodra aiming to further strengthen the technical knowledge of CSOs and to increase their contribution to the negotiation process with the EU.

The first session was chaired by Geron Kamberi, an Expert on European Integration, who presented the possibilities of support and grants from the EU for Civil Society. He introduced EU Programs in which Albania participates as an associated country, such as Erasmus+, Creative Europe, Horizon Europe, EU for Citizens, etc. He also discussed the possibilities for financing and projects from the European Union for Organizations in Albania. The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA funds) of the EU are assessed as dedicated funds for candidate countries, and their role in assisting and developing the country was emphasized. Another topic addressed was the Civil Society Facility, a financial framework dedicated to supporting civil society and media within the IPA. Kamberi also explained the previous EU financial instruments such as PHARE and CARDS, national and cross-border funds, and emphasized that the EU funding for the Western Balkans for the period 1990-2020 amounts to a total of 18 million euros. For the period 2021-2027, the EU has divided its Community Programs into two main pillars: Common Market and Innovation and Digitalization, as well as Cohesion and Values. Kamberi emphasized that Albania benefits from the instruments for candidate countries and participates in financial programs dedicated to member states.

At the last session, Geron Kamberi spoke about the need for paying a fee from Albania concerning these programs where we are as an associated country. The amount of the fee is projected to be 2-3 million euros, but the EU is requesting only 300 000 euros to be paid. He also explained that IPA funds can be used to cover the remaining expenses. Kamberi presented the opportunities for Albania’s involvement in EU programs, such as Digital EU Open, but he stressed the necessity of paying the specified fee. He also mentioned cooperation with other organizations and partnerships with organizations from other countries as important elements to be eligible to apply and to be successful. During the session, he also explained the procedures and criteria for applying and succeeding Civil Society Organizations in programs such as Horizon Europe, Erasmus+, and IPA-CSF, and provided practical advice for information and involvement in these programs.

A space dedicated to discussion with the participants marked the end of this meeting, where questions and comments came from the attendees.