The Italian Development Cooperation is present in Albania since 1991 supporting the ongoing processes of institutional strengthening and socio-economic growth and assisting Albania in its path to European Union membership.
With a financial commitment of 300 million Euro and with more than 70 initiatives, Italy is today the first bilateral donor and overall the third after the European Union and the World Bank.
The intervention of the Italian Cooperation in Albania can be summarized in three main phases. The first phase is related to the emergency situation of the 1990s, the second one is linked to the reinforcement of the socio-economic development process of the country, the third phase started with the signature of the Protocol of Cooperation 2010-12 and is aimed to assist Albania in the European integration process.
After the fall of the Communist regime, the Italian Cooperation supported Albania to face the humanitarian emergency which affected the country, providing commodities and food aid in the framework of the Operation “Pelican”. During the 1990s Italy continued helping the country by taking part in the humanitarian missions held in Albania, all supervised by the Italian Armed Forces. During the crisis erupted in 1997, triggered by the collapse of the financial fraudolent schemes, the Italian Cooperation carried out a new multinational mission, Operation “Alba”, designed to respond to the emergency situation and lay down the reconstruction of basic social infrastructures. In 1999 the Italian Cooperation took part in the mission called “Arcobaleno”, set up to manage the effects of the Kosovo crisis. Despite the emergency situation, this crisis served to direct Italian aid in support of a self-sufficient economic system, based on a market economy, respecting the engagements taken in the framework of the Mixed Commission for the Italian-Albanian Cooperation.
In 2002 Italy and Albania signed a Cooperation Protocol which launched the second phase of Italian commitment in Albania. With a total investment of about EUR 202 million (EUR 106 million of the aid were loans and EUR 42 million were grants), the Protocol focused on socio-economic growth, financing the modernization of public infrastructures. Italy’s priorities included sectors such as energy, transport, infrastructures and water supply, but also the development of the private sector, the enhancement of basic social infrastructures and institutional capacities. During this phase the interventions were coordinated and implemented along with International Organizations, Albanian government bodies, NGOs, in particularly responding to specific demands in sectors such as education, health, vocational training and gender equality.
The new Protocol for Development Cooperation 2010-12 has opened the third phase of the Italian intervention with the general goal to support Albania in the European integration process.
In 2009 Albania has submitted its candidacy for EU membership. The Italian Cooperation supports Albanian candidacy with a commitment of EUR 51 million. As recommended by the Accra Agenda for Action and the European Code of Conduct on Complementarity and the Division of Labour in Development Policy, the commitment stated by the Protocol focuses on three main sectors:
- Private sector development, through the creation of a credit line, already active, supporting SMEs;
- Agriculture and rural development;
- Social development, through the launch of a debt swap program.