In December, 16 mayors and the Chairman of the Regional Council of the Dibër Region, Albania, took part in the study visit “Decentralisation and EU Integration”. During this one week visit the participants learned a lot about regional development and cooperation, lobbying and the preparations which have to be made with an eye on EU accession. The Hague Academy organised this training organised in cooperation with FLAG, the Foundation for Local Autonomy and Governance and VNG-International, in the framework of CORE Develoment Dibër project, supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tirana.
During the study visit which took place in the Netherlands as well as Brussels, the participants got exposed to the Dutch best practices on municipal and regional cooperation, cross-border cooperation and fundraising activities at the EU level. As part of the study tour a visit was made to the Municipality of Bronckhorst, one of the leading Dutch municipalities in the field of local rural development and the EUregion Rijn-Waal. The visit enabled the group to look into variety of services and functions performed by the municipality, the province of Gelderland and the EUregion, within the framework of regional development.
The second part of the study visit focused on the institutions of the European Union. After a highly inspiring presentation by professor van Schendelen on “lobbying in the European Union”, several field trips were made to the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, the Council for European Municipalities and Regions, the Dutch House of Provinces and the representative office of Romanian Municipalities in Brussels. During the visits, the exchanges between the participants and the variety of employees working for the European institutions, led to the gathering of fruitful information and lively discussions.