Despite difficult conditions, EU-funded twinning project with Bank of Albania successfully completed

Gent Seiko
Gent Seiko, Gouverneur Bank of Albania

One year after the opening ceremony, the project was brought to a successful conclusion with a virtual meeting.

Operational environment

Virtual meeting participants on monitor
Virtual closing event
January 2021 saw the successful conclusion of the 12-month EU-funded twinning project “Enhancing Bank of Albania’s alignment with EU Acquis”. Following a temporary interruption in spring 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was possible to continue the project activities in a digital format.

The twinning project supported Bank of Albania in preparation for joining the European System of Central Banks. The two-way exchange was, in particular, designed to strengthen banking supervision and foster financial stability in Albania.

The Bundesbank was fully involved in this project. A total of 12 experts assisted Bank of Albania in the fields of banking supervision, human resources management, monetary policy and financial stability. Banca d’Italia, Banque de France and the National Bank of Romania took an active part alongside the Bundesbank.

Personal experiences

Opening ceremony in Tirana with the participants
Opening ceremony in Tirana
The pandemic meant that all those involved had to face major challenges. Martin Pontzen, adviser on central banking, explains that virtual contacts involve greater communication input, which means that more work is needed for preparation and follow-up. Some online meetings had needed more time than originally planned, for example. Even so, all the objectives had been fully achieved. Andrea Artmann, human resources expert, acknowledges that the focus in virtual meetings is on the presentations and that there is not so much in-depth discussion as in meetings where people are physically present. The new event format also provides opportunities, however. “The fact that face-to-face sessions were split up into a number of virtual meetings held on different days meant that tasks could be organised more flexibly.”

Christian Stock from the Centre for International Central Bank Dialogue (CIC) highlights the seamless transition from personal meetings to virtual meetings: “Implementing the digital format in the second half of the project went smoothly because we had already met each other in person earlier in Tirana.” Frank Elster from the Directorate General Human Resources adds that longstanding contacts and mutual trust among central banks meant that communication was also very good in the twinning with Albania. Although personal meetings had to be put on hold owing to the coronavirus pandemic, it was possible to have a thorough discussion on all the scheduled topics.

Johannes Brandmaier, bank examiner at the Regional Office in Hesse, also recognises that the new format has its advantages: “In the second half of the project, personal instruction on site was not possible. This encouraged our Albanian colleagues to come up with country-specific solutions independently. The travel time saved was used for an additional work unit.” Marcus Haas, adviser on banking supervision, looks back on what was an extremely successful project despite the delays caused by the pandemic: “The changeover to a virtual format went smoothly and everyone involved made the best out of the situation, meaning that all the project objectives could be achieved.”

Text: Frederik Neugebauer
Photographs: Bank of Albania