Sida's work in Albania
Albania has developed rapidly in recent decades, but still faces many challenges. Sida’s reform cooperation aims to bring the country closer to EU membership – by developing its market economy, strengthening its democracy and reducing its environmental impact.
Progress has been made
Unemployment going down
Even if unemployment is still relatively high, it has decreased from 18 percent in 2014 to 11,7 percent in 2020.1
Initiated EU negotiations
The country is approaching EU membership, although the process is slow. In March 2020, the European Council decided to initiate EU negotiations (subject to certain conditions) with Albania.
Reforming the judicial system
In 2016, the Albanian Parliament adopted a comprehensive reform of the judicial system, in order to increase its efficiency and independence. The work of establishing new judicial institutions and processes for the scrutiny of judges and prosecutors has begun. Treatment of young people who committed crimes has been adapted to the Convention on the rights of the child.
Albanians live in poverty. The Roma part of the population is particularly vulnerable.
Laws go unenforced
The government institutions are weak, corruption is widespread2 and the justice system is politicised. As a result, human rights laws often go unenforced. Domestic violence and discrimination against women are among the most prevalent rights violations in the country.
Violence against women
More than half of Albania´s women have been subject to violence at some point during their lifetime.3
Reform cooperation in Albania
Albania is a democracy, but since the fall of the Communist regime in 1991, its politicians have found it difficult to create a democratic spirit in the country. Many of the elections that have been held have been criticised for cheating and deficiencies. Membership in the EU is an overall political goal for Albania, and in 2014 the country was granted candidate status in the union.
Albania is a country in transition, and this entails major challenges for its economy. Unemployment is high and the business environment is difficult, especially for new and small businesses. This affects the development of the country as a whole.
Corruption and a lack of funding are major challenges for Albanian businesses; yet another one is the virtually non-existent cooperation between universities and the business world. To promote entrepreneurship and innovation, Sida supports a so-called “Challenge Fund” in Albania, where start-ups and organisations compete for financial support and training that allow them to implement projects aimed at solving local problems.
Challenge Fund Albania web page
Modernising tax regulation
Albania’s property taxation system is outdated, making it difficult for the country to collect tax. Through the Swedish Tax Agency, Sida supports a reform that, inter alia, helps to modernise regulations and increase municipalities’ tax revenues and citizens’ confidence in the tax system.
Human rights, democracy and the rule of law
Human rights are well protected under Albanian law, but in practice human rights violations are relatively common. Poverty, corruption, a weak public administration and the lack of good public services have a negative impact on the people’s rights. Girls, women and minority groups are particularly vulnerable.
Merging municipalities to increase citizens’ participation
In the past, Albania had a great many small municipal governments that found it difficult to do their jobs. Sida is cooperating with the Albanian government to reform parts of the country’s public sector. One example of these efforts is the merger of the municipalities. Inter alia, this will improve citizens’ access to public services and increase citizens’ participation and transparency in municipal decision-making processes.
Increasing citizens’ security
Organised crime, poor conditions in detention centres and prisons, and the occasional use of excessive force by the police are problems in Albania. The programme Strengthening Community Policing in Albania (SCPA) increases citizens’ security and strengthens the trustworthiness of the Albanian police, as well as their capacity to reduce crime.
Strengthening civil society
Albanian civil society is active, but it is fragmented and lacks resources. Through the Olof Palme International Centre, Civil Rights Defenders, Kvinna till Kvinna, Save the Children and the Albanian Women Empowerment Network (AWEN), Sida strengthens local organisations and their role as democratic actors in Albania.
The environment and climate
The country is burdened by serious environmental problems, including pollution, environmental degradation and inadequate waste management.4 Environmental work has a very low political priority and lacks both the administrative and monetary resources to be able to make necessary improvements in the environment and climate area.
Contributing to Albania’s efforts to meet EU requirements
Albania has a long way to go if it is to meet the EU’s environmental requirements, which is a prerequisite to joining the EU. Sida supports the SANE27 programme, which contributes to Albania’s efforts to meet the EU requirements. This is accomplished, inter alia, by adapting environmental legislation and increasing the participation of local environmental organisations in the country’s environmental work.
Protecting biodiversity and natural resources
The country is rich in natural resources but lacks the capacity and political will to protect and manage them. Sida cooperates with the Albanian nature protection agency to strengthen biodiversity and adapt the country’s environmental work to EU standards. To this end, efforts include mapping studies of flora and fauna, the identification of protected areas and the development of plans for the management of protected areas.
Updated: October 29, 2021