Agriculture funds, the Ministry responds: The European Commission has not suspended the support program

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The European Commission’s scheme to boost agricultural finances has been temporarily halted. The Ministry of Agriculture emphasizes in an official answer that the work and program continue.

The Ministry advises the Albanian authorities that the existing reimbursement invoice from DG AGRI for a portion of the upcoming expenses has been suspended.

However, according to the response, this is a completely administrative process that allows accredited structures to re-verify control systems, which “will take necessary actions to ensure the normal continuation of reimbursement from the EU.”

The assistance program has not been disrupted. The work and the program continue.

The Albanian authorities have been told that the current reimbursement invoice from DG AGRI for a portion of the upcoming expenses has been suspended. This is a completely administrative process that allows authorized entities to re-verify control systems and take the necessary actions to ensure the regular continuation of EU reimbursement. These are standard European Union processes for verifying suspected expenses for activities that do not follow set regulations.

All Albanian structures are in constant cooperation and coordination with the OLAF office and DG AGRI, providing full transparency in all control, investigative, and administrative processes followed to date or that may be activated in the future, just as they have done since accreditation.

The IPARD program’s accreditation process began over ten years ago, and implementation could not begin until the accreditation of operational structures in accordance with the Framework, Sectoral, and Financial Agreement was adopted in the Albanian Parliament. Since its inception in 2018, the program has resulted in a major shift in our country’s manufacturing and processing procedures, as well as enhanced technical skills among local workers.

The program, like any other financial mechanism, reviews, controls, and implements projects in line with well-established and approved European Union laws, which are regularly monitored and audited by internal and external institutions. If infractions are found, the software determines the operational structures that take action and act in accordance with legal procedures, exactly as any such institution in European Union countries would.

This is a day-to-day job in which all certified institutions collaborate to follow EU standards in order to improve various administrative parts of the program’s operation while dealing with obstacles in the agriculture sector’s implementation. As a result, it is critical that a rural economic development program in Albania does not become a political hot potato.

The IPARD program is a cornerstone for Albanian agricultural growth, and its effects can be seen in the sector’s substantial indices of positive performance today. This accomplishment was reached through outstanding collaboration with farmers and agro-processors, as well as professionals from structures in both Albania and Brussels.

Only in this manner have we been able to ensure tangible results by enabling 85 collection points, over 40 agro-food processing factories, over 130 investments in agricultural machinery and increased cultivated areas, over 50 investments in agrotourism establishments, over 30 investments in cattle and livestock farms, over 40 investments in wineries and vineyards, over 85 investments in greenhouses, investments in renewable energy, and so on, with a direct impact of over 5000 new jobs.

We are proud of the work done; the program continues, and all recognized structures involved in its implementation are working in full collaboration with European partners to ensure effective advancement for the benefit of the country.