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 in the framework of the CORE Development 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 EU region Rijn-Waal. The visit enabled the group to look into a variety of services and functions performed by the municipality, the province of Gelderland and the EU region, 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.
The main objective of the training was to prepare the participants, 20 mayors/members from the Dibër Regional Council, with knowledge and skills in handling regional development in the prospect of EU accession within a decentralised governance framework.