On 13-14 February 2020, Cooperation and Development Institute – CDI organized the Regional Seminar “Investing in People and Social Cohesion: A Youth and Civil Society Perspective”. This event saw the participation of a large audience of different stakeholders such as local institutions, civil society, academia, media, youth organizations etc., to discuss and find new innovative and sustainable ways of working together on mobility and digital pillar, on the mapping of economic, innovative and scientific potential in the country, on the relevant public policies that have a particular focus on innovation, mobility of youth and academics and employability.

On February 13th, the seminar was tailored in the form of a workshop where different actors such as civil society organizations, academia, media, young people, etc., worked together under three thematic topics such as: i) Education and Employment, ii) Youth Connectivity and Mobility, and iii) Innovation, Digitalization and Media.

On February 14, the regional seminar kicked off with the welcoming remarks of Ms. Krisela Hackaj, Executive Director of Cooperation and Development Institute and Ms. Stine Klapper, Head of Office, Friedrich-Ebert- Foundation in Tirana, partner in this Project.

Mr. Nemanja Todorović Štiplija, Editor in Chief of the European Western Balkan presented the research findings on state of play of Regional Economic Area from the civil society and media perspective, prepared in the framework of the project by CDI and its partners, as well as the recommendations of the workshop. He emphasized that generally REA is not receiving substantial attention from the media, and more information and transparency should accompany this process.

Later on, the panel kicked off with Ms. Tanja Miščević, Former Chief Negotiator of the Republic of Serbia and Deputy Secretary General – Regional Cooperation Council, who introduced the participants with the current state of play, main achievements and challenges of the Regional Economic Area with a special focus on the development of the pillars more directly linked to human capital. Ms. Miščević, as a Former Chief Negotiator of the Republic of Serbia is also a good connoisseur of the EU integration process, and she reiterated the importance of the role of the civil society and youth in the very first steps of the negotiation process. In relation to the New Enlargement Methodology, Ms. Miščević highlighted that it provides a strong impetus for the civil society, given that even if the funding to candidate countries is suspended for backward in the reforms path, it will continue for civil society. This is why it is very important, she added, that civil society gets organized in coalitions or networks for a higher impact in the governance of democracy.

Furthermore, Ms. Oriana Arapi, Director General, Good Governance and Development Policy Unit, Department of Development and Good Governance, Prime Minister’s Office presented the main outcomes of the socio-economic development component of the monitoring report of the National Strategy for Development and Integration (2015-2017). According to the report, better education, youth employment and better training skills remain the main challenges and will still be an important part of the priorities of the next NSDI Strategy 2030. Ms. Arapi, added that the planning process for IPA 2021-2027 is happening also now, a process due in September following the prioritization process which will be carried out in coordination with the line Ministries. She emphasized the necessity that both processes are linked.

Likewise, Ms. Mirela Muça, Director of the National Agency for Scientific Research and Innovation explained the current situation of the scientific research in Albania and the main challenges in the preparation of the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3), such as a broader inclusion of all actor like civil society, business, media, universities etc and the data availability for building the necessary indicators that measure innovation and scientific research. From the current progress in the mapping of the development potential, Ms. Muça singled out the main priority economic sectors: agriculture, tourism and energy. She also added that the area Tirana-Durres represents the main development potential at the country level.

The panel was concluded by Mr. Gledis Gjipali, Executive Director, European Movement Albania who underlined the importance and the necessity for substantially including the civil society and youth policies in the EU integration process. According to Mr. Gjipali the current momentum should be used by the civil society to be better organized and networked, and well-prepared to contribute and exercise pressure in the decision-making processes. Also, Ms. Gjipali emphasized the how civil society’s interests do dictate the need for better and stronger cooperation and networking between different civil society groups. A key challenge in Albania is related to a better access and higher benefit from the available and different IPA funding instruments.

The panel was moderated by Ms. Dafina Peci, Executive Director of National Youth Congress and was organized in the framework of the project “Applying Sector Approach to Civil Society Contribution in EU Integration of Albania – CONNECT”, which is funded by the European Union Delegation in Tirana through the Albanian Ministry of Finance and Economy (CFCU) and is being implemented by Cooperation and Development Institute in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Tirana) and Centar Savremene Politike/European Western Balkans (Belgrade).

A policy brief based on previous roundtable conclusions, the regional workshop discussions and the main inputs from the regional seminar will be published very soon.

The agenda of the event can be consulted here.

The video of this regional seminar can be found  here.

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