EU Information Business Relay (2013-2014)
European Community represented by the European Commission, for and on behalf of the government of the Republic of Albania selected Foreign Investors Association of Albania to implement a very key project regarding the establishment of EU Information Business Relay in Albania.
In 2012 the DG Enlargement defined a communication strategy and proposed activities for the precession Assistance, which aimed at increasing IPA visibility and building a positive attitude towards it.
To achieve this end, efforts needed to be focused in creating a link between invested funds, the actual progress and benefits of the external assistance.
The communication challenges for the Delegation focused in particular on providing information and raising public awareness about the EU integration process, the acquis communautaire and actual and future developments in EU policies. Awareness amongst the population on what the EU means and stands for.
The overall objective of the project served to support and coordinate an EU Information Relay for the Albanian businesses.
The purpose of this project, therefore, was to support the Delegation’s efforts in informing Albanian Businesses about the European Union and the European Integration Process. This action was performed by providing EU market access information about customs and tariffs, environmental requirements, food safety legislation, standards and technical certification, intellectual property, statistical data etc. The project aimed also building capacity for the Albanian businesses, by organizing seminars, workshops, and other public events focusing on issues related to doing business with the EU.
Another task of the project implemented by FIAA has been promoting EU-Albania cooperation programs by providing first-hand information on the EU Albania, cooperation programs, raising the profile of the EU in the country by increasing the visibility of the European Union in Albania, increasing awareness of the Albanian businesses how to export to EU, encouraging cooperation among the Albanian and EU business community in Albania.
The results achieved during the implementation of the project were: EU Information relay for Albanian businesses established and fully functional. This result was achieved by presenting 5 EU computerized info-points for visitors to go on-line free of charge, where there was available information staff per each info-point to provide professional assistance in Albanian language as well. The 5 info points were supported through the local Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Durres, Lezha, Fieri, Gjirokastra and the Tirana Office within FIAA.
Other results of the project were 5 seminars/workshops, and other public events focusing on issues related to doing business with the EU organized at 5 different cities of Albania.
As well a dedicated website of the EU Information relay for Albanian businesses was available online for 5 years.
Two informative brochures/leaflets targeted for the local businesses were another important task of this project accompanied by a business library with a wide variety of documents, brochures, publications, and other business information related to the EU Single Market in place.
During the implementation of this project it was reached an increased knowledge among business community of the EU policies, priorities, institutions and perspectives, having a better understanding of the integration process of Albania into the EU, and the role of the business community and its participation in the EU integration process.
This project assumed a high Albanian public’s interest in the EU integration agenda.
Prompted amongst others factors by:
- A stable financial assistance ear-marked yearly by the EU assistance program for Albania, through the IPA financial instrument primarily;
- Continued support for EU integration process as a priority goal of the Government and all democratic political parties in Albania.
The EU Information Relay project served as main entry point of all essential trade-related enquiries on the EU Single Market. It was an information point to businesses that need to follow developments in the EU market in order to maintain their export competitiveness.
Chambers of Commerce, business organizations, local business community were the target groups for the implementation of this project.
Following the publication of the 2013 EC Progress Report on Albania and political developments in the country, the perception of the Albanian public towards EU is likely to change. But survey data showed that the business community was among the most pro-EU groups in the country. This data did not correspond to the level of information business community had for the EU in general and especially for the integration process.
Hence, the project considered it very important to provide the target groups with technical information on how to work with EU structures and how to the benefit. This information has been tailored according to business community attitudes on EU integration, according to the fears and misperceptions identified. This way, the business community played a facilitating, participatory and active role during the accession process.