Open regional funds – modernisation of municipal services
Title: Open regional funds 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, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia
Lead executing agency: Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)
Overall term: 2007 to 2016
The countries of South-East Europe are all aiming to join the European Union (EU). At local level, municipalities often lack the expertise and technology required in order to implement the EU’s rigorous standards and, as a result, to improve the quality of their municipal services. To overcome these challenges, the Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Modernisation of Municipal Services (ORF-MKD) works closely with regional networks and other partners on the implementation of joint projects. Partners include the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS) and the Regional Water Associations Partnership, as well as individual towns and cities, and municipalities.
Regional cooperation is used by the providers of municipal services in the countries of South-East Europe as a tool to modernise their inputs – such as technical improvements and more efficient management procedures – so that they are in line with EU standards.
Together with representatives of municipalities, local associations, political decision-makers and other partners, ORF-MKD begins by analysing the most urgent problems facing municipal services in the countries of South-East Europe. With the support of ORF-MKD, the partners then develop and implement project ideas. These focus on issues such as water supply and wastewater disposal, consumer protection, business-friendly municipalities, waste management, improving the range of services offered by municipalities as well as strengthening municipal management structures.
ORF-MKD has set up cooperation models and works closely with other donors and projects in South-East Europe. These include the Danube Water Program, supported by the World Bank and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance; the Growth-Oriented Local Development project, a joint measure of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA); the Municipal Environmental and Economic Governance project (MEG), which is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC); and a number of regional projects carried out by GIZ.
Since 2013, half of the overall costs of ORF-MKD have been borne by SDC.
With support from ORF-MKD, municipal associations have developed instruments, methods, recommendations and regional comparative analyses, which are used by municipalities and public utility companies to improve the services they offer. They also serve as the basis for making improvements to legal frameworks. For example, ORF-MKD advised the Regional Water Associations Partnership on the selection and introduction of EU-compliant technologies for wastewater disposal and implemented an electronic system for building permits in the region. In addition to increasing levels of transparency, the system enables permits to be processed more quickly, thereby improving the overall permit procedure.
ORF is also developing a smartphone app which can be used to report the challenges faced in providing municipal services for citizens. Furthermore, it supported the creation of a regional certification model for business-friendly municipalities.
ORF-MKD has now established itself as a cooperation and networking platform for all regional stakeholders interested in improving municipal services in South-East Europe.