EU and Albania sign Financing Agreement of €82 million to improve infrastructure and human rights (02/02/2012)
Tirana, 2 February 2012
EU and Albania sign Financing Agreement of €82 million to improve infrastructure and human rights
Over the course of the next two years, the Albanian government will be able to benefit from a total of €82 million of assistance from the EU to support efforts for improvements in strategic areas. More specifically, the funding will finance the Vlora bypass, the rural roads network and farmer competitiveness, the Velipoja water treatment plant, and the social inclusion of the Roma and Egyptian communities, justice and vocational education. These areas of intervention have been determined by continuous dialogue with government, civil society and other donors and they seek to address some of Albania’s economic development and integration priorities. The total amount provided by the EU to Albania since 1991 amounts to more than 1.4 billion euro, thus making it by far the biggest partner of the country.
Through this Financing Agreement, the construction of the Vlora bypass will be supported with €20 million, thus facilitating access to the south. While bringing tangible improvements to economic activity in the south, this bypass also enhances pressure for Government action for regulated development of the South Coast including long-sighted and efficient use of natural resources upon which much economic growth depends. The rural roads network will benefit from another €14.5 million, strategically invested for the economic development of rural areas, which are complemented by 10 million € dedicated to the farmer competitiveness. €10.5 million will go to the extension of the Velipoja water treatment plant, thus adding to the almost €88 million spent on water sanitation and environment in the past 5 years. Considering that marginalised groups in society are also usually hit the hardest by times of crisis, the EU has earmarked €1.5 million for the social inclusion of the Roma and Egyptian communities. Justice, customs and vocational education are also supported through financing of 23.7 million €.
During the signature ceremony, Head of EU Delegation to Tirana, Ambassador Ettore Sequi noted that “The fact that the EU has kept the flow of assistance to Albania and the region at large stable during such a deep crisis cannot be emphasized enough, and cannot be taken for granted”. In this context, Ambassador Sequi emphasised that “our expectations for the results of this money are not modest” and pointed to the importance and responsibility of addressing the 12 Priorities for candidate status – a functioning Parliament, free and fair elections, a meritocratic and professional public administration, justice reform, the fight against corruption and organised crime, property rights, human rights and prison reform. “These”, he added, “are the 12 priorities that Albania needs to address in order to gain candidate status. These are the priorities that Albania needs to address in order to make sure that Albanians realise their democratic and European aspirations”.