The overarching goal of the Swedish reform work in Albania is to assist with the reforms needed to achieve an EU membership. In June 2014, Albania was granted the status of a candidate country by the European Union. Sweden supports Albania with about 80 million SEK per year and has provided aid since 1998.
The development cooperation, for which Sida is responsible, is guided by a results strategy valid from 2014 to 2020. The strategy covers three thematic areas, including democratic governance and human rights; environment and climate change; and development of market economy and economic integration with the EU. Recent years’ development efforts have focused on the first two areas.
The Albanian public administration needs to become more efficient, open and transparent towards the public. Therefore, Sweden supports capacity development through collegial support from Statistics Sweden (SCB) to the Albanian Institute of Statistics (INSTAT). Sweden also contributes to improved planning and monitoring within public administration on a nation level through cooperation with the World Bank.
In 2015, Albania initiated a territorial reform, reducing 373 local units to 61 municipalities in order to improve service delivery to Albanian citizens. Sweden supported the territorial reform at an early stage and continues to provide support through the UNSTAR programme, aiming towards building administrative capacities at municipal level that enables citizens' access to service delivery.
The opportunities for Albanian citizens to participate in and influence the reform process and EU approchement are limited. Through the support to Albanian and Swedish organisations such as Albanian Women Empowerment Network (AWEN), Civil Rights Defenders and the Olof Palme International Center, the investigative and accountability role of national organizations and media is strengthened.
The first steps towards increasing civil society’s access to a legally safe and effective police force have been taken through the Swedish support to a community police reform within the Albanian police. In 2017, Sweden is starting a new contribution, focusing on juvenile justice. Swedish justice agencies will work together with their Albanian counterparts in order to promote EU standards on juvenile justice and contribute to juveniles receiving fair treatment and justice.
Sweden contributes to the promotion of gender equality in Albania through support to One UN and AWEN. There are still major challenges related to increasing women's participation in politics and governance and for this reason Sweden is supporting a project with the aim to increase women representation on all levels of the Albanian society.Through AWEN, Sweden contests gender-based violence and supports the construction of help centers for victims of violence.
Together with Save the Children, Sweden works towards strengthening child rights in Albania, focusing on the rights to safety, protection and participation. The programme aims to promote the role and competence of the Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights in relation to child rights.
Sweden supports the civil society organization Regional Environmental Center Albania (REC), working with environmental capacity building within civil society and provides venues for dialogue and cooperation.
Swedish support to reform processes in forestry and water is channeled through the World Bank. Through cooperation with Connecting Natural Values and People (CNVP) Sweden supports Forest and Pasture User's Association (FPUA) wih the aim to establish FPUA as a democratic organisation in which women are represented and recognized as economic actors. CNVP has assisted FPUA in developing models enabling farmers to map out their lands and register their properties themselves.
Sweden, in cooperation with USAID, works towards building a sustainable tourism sector in Albania. The cooperation aims to increase economic opportunities for Albanian citizens and contribute to the business enabling environment, for example through workforce development and capacity building. The programme provides support to small companies or individual organizations in Albania. One of the target groups of the programme is women on the countryside.