3rd Regional CBC Forum, Tirana, 28.01.2010
As was the case with previous two Regional CBC Forums organised by CBIB (Zagreb 2007 and Skopje 2008), as well as numerous regional coordination meetings, getting the Western Balkan IPA CBC stakeholders at once place and enabling dialogue, exchange of experience and common problem-solving proved to be an essential tool to steer this complex process forward.
The 3rd Regional CBC Forum took place in Trana, Albania on January 28th, 2010. As 1st Calls for Proposals for all programmes at ‘intra’ Western Balkan borders have been launched and closed in the period June – November 2009, and the evaluation of grant applications received is currently ongoing, the timing of the Forum was crucial in order to present the assessment of achievements accomplished thus far, as well as discuss next steps in programme implementaton.
Again, apart from allowing for successful networking and exchange of ideas and best practices among the stakeholders in the wider region, the Forum enabled a direct link to the Commission and obtaining answers to the main issues.
Forum objectives – the way forward for IPA CBC in the Western Balkans in 2010
The main objective of the Forum was to support the ongoing implementation of the IPA CBC programmes through:
- ensuring feedback for an even more successul 2nd round of CfP expected in 2010 by presenting the key observations and recommendations from the Assessment of the 1st round of Calls for Proposals undertaken by CBIB;
- providing necessary inputs for the next steps in the programming cycle – budgetary clearing and contracting and subsequent implementation of first cross-border projects.
The Forum was opened by Ms. Majlinda Bregu, Minister of Integration of Albania and Mr. Helmut Lohan, EU Ambassador in Albania
Forum participants – gathering all Western Balkan IPA CBC stakeholders in one place
All IPA CBC stakeholders in the region took active part in the Forum and a total number of registered participants, including the CBIB team, was 98. Participants included the representatives of national Operating Structures, Joint Management Structures (JMC members and JTS and Antennae staff), National TA teams, as well as representatives of the European Commission and EU Delegations from the countries of the Region.
Event flow: finding the right balance between presentations and interactive discussions
Ms. Natasa Gospodjinacki (left), CBIB Team Leader, presented the Assessment of the 1st round of CfP, preparead by CBIB; Mr. Giannantonio Ballette (middle), Deputy Head of Unit D1 Financial Instruments & Contracts, DG ELARG, moderated the 3rd Regional CBC Forum; Mr. Pascal Herry (right), CBIB II EC Programme Manager, moderated the 3rd SC meeting
The 3rd Regional CBC Forum was officially opened by Ms. Majlinda Bregu, Minister of Integration of Albania and Mr. Helmut Lohan, EU Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation in Albania. Ambassadors of Croatia and Montenegro to Albania were also present during the Forum.
The first part of the morning session of the Forum was given over to brief presentations of the state-of play of IPA CBC programmes by representatives of national Operating Structures of 6 beneficiary countries. This was followed by the presentation of the Assessment of the 1st round of the Calls for Proposals undertaken by CBIB in order to provide feedback on the process and mechanisms behind it that could aid in streamlining the preparation of the 2nd CfP. Main observations and recommendations from the Assessment were presented by Ms. Natasa Gospodjinacki, CBIB Team Leader.
Before the lunch break, Ms. Bettina Rafaelsen, Team Leader of the EC evaluators that will perform an interim evaluation of all 8 IPA CBC programmes at ‘intra’ WB borders, presented the scope and methodology of this two-stage process.
The afternoon session of the Forum was dedicated to discussions on the following topics:
- finalisation of the evaluation of grant applications received under the first round of CfP;
- preparation for the 2nd round of CfP;
- implementation of IPA CBC programmes and first cross-border projects;
The Forum received good media coverage from both TV stations and newspapers from Tirana.
As was the practice during the previous events, the opportunity of having all the stakeholders present at one place was used to organise additional meetings. Before the Forum, on January 27th, 2010, a coordination meeting between the EC, EU Delegations and CBIB took place in order to discuss issues vital for the efficient continuation of the process. The wrap-up of this meeting took place on the morning of January 29th, 2010, when main conclusions were summarised.
Immediatel after the Forum, on January 28th, 2010, 3rd CBIB II Steering Committee meeting was organised in order to present the project progress in the previous period as well as plans for the upcoming months.
On January 29th, 2010, the first programming meeting for the drafting of the cross-border programmes with Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244/99) took place. CBIB was mandated by the European Commission to ensure overall coordination of this process.
IPA CBC in the Western Balkans can move forward only through regional coordination
In the evaluation forms filled in by the Forum participants, a need for continuous regional coordination was emphasised as essential for the process. The Regional Forum was once again recognised as a successful meeting point supporting networking, sinergies and exchange of information.*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence