Albania is a priority country of Switzerland’s transition cooperation with Eastern Europe. Over the past 20 years, the country has transitioned to a market economy. One of SECO’s main areas of support is Albania’s economic and fiscal policy. It also works to improve the framework conditions for local enterprises and helps to develop urban infrastructure and public utilities.
As an EU candidate country since 2014, Albania has initiated several reform processes expected to bring political, social and economic progress. Currently, however, circumstances for the implementation of reforms are difficult: in November 2019, a devastating earthquake hit Albania. In the midst of the reconstruction efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic put even more pressure on the government’s budget and response. The Albanian economy is expected to decline from this double effect: a clear setback as the average income in Albania was already far below the European average before the two crises.
Reforms driven by EU accession plans
Albania faces various challenges: there is a need to improve the economic framework conditions and, in particular, reduce high public debt and strengthen local authorities. The quality of public services is low and the country needs to create more jobs, especially for young people. The country further faces some serious environmental issues, for instance poor air quality and inadequate waste management.
What are SECO’s objectives?
SECO and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) jointly define and implement the Swiss Cooperation Strategy in Albania. Together, they intervene in the following areas: democratic governance, economic development and employment, urban infrastructure and energy, and health. SECO mainly focuses on:
- Better financial management and a more competitive private sector
SECO supports Albania in reforming the way it manages its public funds by making accounting more transparent and managing debt more efficiently. This includes municipalities, which have recently received more responsibilities from the central government. SECO also helps Albania to improve the investment climate and make its private sector more competitive.
- Sustainable urban development and energy supply
SECO is working to improve public services at a local level. It helps the authorities deliver an affordable and reliable supply of running water and build an efficient sanitation and waste management system. SECO also contributes to improving energy security. It encourages the use of renewable energy and helps to safeguard a more reliable and efficient supply of energy from existing sources.
From 2018 to 2021, a total of some CHF 105 million is foreseen for Swiss transition cooperation with Albania. SECO will contribute around CHF 38 million.
Last modification 29.01.2021