The cooperation projects represent nowadays for public institutions an important source of knowledge, specific actions, relationships and additional budget. Their relevance has increased in the years, passing from the empiric experiences to the acquisition of a strategic value in the framework of dedicated policies, in which the top-down definition of the priorities and objectives by the authorities in charge of a cooperation programme is combined with the bottom up project development of the project applicants, aimed at reaching the programme objectives and local, specific goals in order to provide added value to the project.

In the framework of the European cohesion policy, the cooperation activities have gained through the years a relevant position in the global strategy for the European territorial cohesion. From the status of “initiative” of the previous financial periods, the territorial cooperation in the financial period 2007-2013 has achieved the status of “Objective”. Moreover, the transnational cooperation has been included as “Component 2” in the framework of the IPA programme of the European Commission, aimed at assisting the accession to the EU of the candidate countries. This component is one of the two (out of 5) which has been opened to all the pre-accession countries.

The Albanian public bodies are currently facing the need to improve their management and reporting capacities in the cooperation projects, due to the increasing responsibility of the non-EU partners in these domains, and to the more strict controls from the monitoring authorities.

Furthermore, the interest in developing an autonomous capacity of working with a project approach to access additional sources of financing is increasing in these administrations, considering the dedicated budget lines of the IPA funds.

Since 2007, CFLI and the Institute of Transport of the Albanian Ministry of Transport have been jointly involved in different cooperation initiatives, both as project partners and service providers. Currently, the partners have been involved in the project WATERMODE (Programme South East Europe), as service providers for the Venice and Ancona port authorities and the Port of Durres in domains as the implementation of a census on logistics platforms in their countries and the definition of common standards for safety at work. Moreover, in the project CEI KEP (PORTRAIN), implemented in 2009, the Institute of Transport (service provider for the Durres port authority and CFLI (Lead partner) have worked together to define a set of training procedures for port workers. CFLI has a staff with strong know-how related to the development, management and reporting of European projects, in different domains: European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund, Cross border cooperation, EQUAL, and, in the domain of the CEI initiatives, KEP. The Institute of Transport has had cooperation experiences in the Interreg and FP7 programmes. Between the missions of the Institute there is the following: “To take part as a consultant or local partner in regional and foreign projects in the field of transport”.

The project aims at transferring to the Institute of Transport training practices and methodologies developed by the CFLI, with a special focus in the following areas of action:

Project development: programmes available at European, national and international level, with specific analysis of the most interesting programmes (especially IPA and Twinning);
Project management: methodologies, and practical experiences;
Project reporting: approaches in the effective management of the administrative and reporting tasks;
Draft of a joint project proposal by the Albanian partner.

The activities have been mainly implemented through training activities to be held in Venice, at the premises of the CFLI, and at the premises of the Albanian partner in Tirana. Moreover, study visits to the Italian Embassy and to the EU Delegation in Albania have been programmed. The project budget has been of 50.000€, with a contributo of 25.000€ of the CEI KEP programme. The activities were implemented between March and December 2011, articulated in the following WP:

WP 1: MANAGEMENT: The management of the project was ensured through the issuing of a steering group to plan the activities, monitor and evaluate the results.

WP2 PROJECT DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT CAPACITY IMPROVEMENT: The project management training focused on providing the Institute of Transport’s managing staff with competencies for the development and the management of projects. In this phase, the focus was kept on the programme rules of the European Union, considering the relevance of the available cooperation initiatives (in the domain of cooperation, the SEE and the IPA programmes). Trainees gained the knowledge about opportunities for financing within different EU programs, procedures and knowledge needed for development of project proposals, as well as knowledge and best practices for management of EU projects. The training was mainly organised for the director and the 4 chiefs of sectors of the Institute of transport through 2 types of activities:

4 days training at the premises of the CFLI, focused on the analysis of the programme’s documents (operational programmes, eligibility rules, application forms and budget draft), as well as on reporting on programme authorities, coordinating partners and internal monitoring of the programme’s activities. At the end of the training the partners agreed on the content of the project proposal to be developed. In addition a presentation on the Veneto regional development cooperation initiatives was provided, in order to prepare the recipient’s staff to the visit foreseen;
4 days of training sessions on national administrative and reporting rules for IPA funds at the premises of the Institute of Transport. The training was opened to the administrative staff of the Institute of Transport.

WP3 STUDY VISITS AND PROJECT DEVELOPMENT TEST A second training session was implemented by the staff of CFLI at the premises of the Institute of Transport on the project management capacity and project development test. The Albanian partners drafted with the support of CFLI a project action proposal inserted in the INTERMODADRIA project proposal, presented by Marche Region at the second call for proposals of the IPA Adriatic programme. CFLI supported moreover the Institute of Transport in the draft of a project proposal to be presented under the IPA institutional building programmes in Albania.

WP 4 PROMOTION AND DISSEMINATION: The promotion and dissemination activities informed the relevant public authorities to the results achieved by the project and promoted the KEP Programme.