SWG EC Project Preparation Facility: “Preparation of a Proposal for an Area Based Development in the Western Balkans” – September 2011 – June 2012


Area Based Development (ABD) is considered to be an innovative approach enabling breakthrough in sustainable growth of rural cross-border regions.

ABD is perceived as suitable for targeting defined geographical areas in cross-border regions in the Western Balkans, characterized by specific complex development problems. The approach as its core principles uses a methodology, which is inclusive, participatory, and flexible and ensures integration and coherence. It is suitable in particular for areas where one or several of the following development situations are present: poverty gap, post-natural or human disasters, post-conflict environment and exclusion issues.

The ABD approach was initiated in the region as part of the EU-financed (DG AGRI) study, carried out in close collaboration with SWG. The study titled “Facilitating an area-based development approach in rural cross-border areas of the Western Balkans” was carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre – IPTS. It covered the Drina-Tara Region – a cross-border area between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia – and, as part of the study, developed a methodology for designing and applying the ABD approach to cross-border regions.

The SWG Assembly has, beside the cross-border region Drina – Tara, selected three cross – border regions in the Western Balkans to be involved in the process of Area Based Development.

The selected regions were follows:

  • Cross-border region Drina – Sava region (cross – border region between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia)
  • Cross-border Prespa region (cross – border region between Albania and Macedonia) and
  • Cross-border region Shara (cross – border region between Macedonia and Kosovo[1].

Project Aim and Outputs

The main aim of the Project Preparation Facility is to prepare a project proposal for implementation of ABD in the above mentioned cross-border regions of the Western Balkans.

The output was a project fiche and technical annexes related to the selected cross-border regions (in-depth analyses and development Strategies and Action Plans for each of the regions), for provision of a basis for the multi-annual ABD project in the selected regions of Western Balkan countries.

[1] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.