Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Modernisation of Municipal Services
Title: Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Modernisation of Municipal Services
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia
Lead executing agency: Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)
Overall term: 2006 to 2021
The countries of South-East Europe are currently implementing reforms required for accession to the European Union (EU). The challenges relating to municipal services are particularly great due to decentralisation. Municipalities and public utilities often lack the expertise, resources and products needed to implement the EU’s rigorous standards, which call for improved municipal services.
Some countries and municipalities in the region already have significant experience and successes in managing their municipal services. Regional exchange and cooperation to improve municipal services in line with the EU accession requirements is still insufficient.
In order to face these challenges, the Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Modernising Municipal Services boosts the ability of regional networks such as the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS) to cooperate within the network as well as with other networks. The aim is that users should receive high-quality, efficiently and effectively rendered municipal services.
Regional cooperation to improve municipal services in line with EU accession requirements is strengthened.
Together with regional networks, municipal associations, public utility companies and their associations as well as consumer organisations, the Open Regional Fund – Modernisation of Municipal Services is laying the foundation for the dissemination of instruments developed by the networks, for example the business planning model for managing water supply networks. With regard to water supply, wastewater management and waste management, instruments, processes and procedures to improve municipal services are prepared in such a way that can be offered by the networks or their members to the municipalities as products; these include developed business models, business plans and marketing strategies.
The Open Regional Fund – Modernisation of Municipal Services supports the networks and their members in achieving financial independence, for example by acquiring funding, for instance through EU support programmes. The project strengthens the institutional capacities of networks and their members in order to facilitate and intensify exchange through regional cooperation.
The Open Regional Fund – Modernisation of Municipal Services has established itself as a relevant cooperation and networking platform for all regional actors that work towards improved municipal services in South-East Europe.
With the support of the Regional Fund, partners have developed instruments, methods, recommendations and regional comparative analyses that municipalities and public utility companies use to improve communal services. The products can also serve as a basis to improve legal frameworks and initiate change processes. One example is the introduction of an electronic building permit system in Serbia and Albania that was developed in North Macedonia.
The national authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are using recommendations to improve the legal frameworks to introduce a data collection method for solid waste in municipalities.
Another success story is the development and introduction of a regional certification model for business-friendly municipalities, Business Friendly Certification South East Europe (BFC SEE).
Furthermore, procedures and processes for improving water-related municipal services were developed, introduced into public utility companies and disseminated further to individual countries in South-East Europe through the networks, for example the management of water supply systems or approaches to reducing water loss.
Initial experiences and examples of good practice in regional cooperation to improve municipal services are available, for example the cooperation between NALAS, the International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area (IAWD), the Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group (SWG RRD) and the consumer associations (Consumer Organisations Network South East Europe (ConWeb). The Open Regional Fund – Modernisation of Municipal Services supported the cooperation between these networks and created a common understanding of goals, strategies, concepts and roles.