Développement économique et création locale d’emplois (LEED)

Local development capacity assessment in EU candidate countries and potential candidates in the Western Balkans


A LEED project for 2011-2012


Joint initiative by the EC Enlargement Directorate-General and
the OECD Local Economic and Employment Development Programme


Implemented by the OECD LEED Trento Centre for Local Development


Background / Objective / Methods / Key areas / Outputs / Contacts



The reform progress has been remarkable in the Western Balkans in recent years, however, much remains to be done, especially when it comes to local capacities to implement national policies or deliver place-specific strategies. A stronger local capacity to manage change is needed to improve competitiveness and address the challenges faced by the region. The rapid restructuring and integration in the global economy have exacerbated traditional regional gaps and created new disparities when many heavily industrialised regions, prosperous in the past, have found themselves in decline, whilst other areas rapidly advance towards “new” prosperity.

Unemployment remains high in most regions and the mismatch between skills and jobs hampers labour absorption and slows down business development. Large groups of population are trapped in poverty and exclusion as a consequence of recent conflicts. Whilst central governments pull the macroeconomic levers, a stronger capacity at regional and local levels is needed to enhance the beneficial impacts of the macro changes and the higher tier policies.



This join initiative is focused on providing an assessment of the current local development capacity in view of EU accession in the EU Candidate countries and potential candidates in the Western Balkans, notably:

 - Albania
 - Bosnia Herzegovina
 - Croatia
 - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
 - Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244)
 - Montenegro
 - Serbia

The aim of the project is to:

  • Provide an assessment of local development capacities in view of EU accession in the Western Balkan economies using OECD criteria.
  • Develop recommendations and Action Plans for policy and institutional framework improvement in each partner economy.
  • Identify capacity building priorities that could be addressed in 2012-2013.  



Country Teams: the commitment and contribution of partner countries

Country teams have been formed in each partner country composed of a limited number of high-level policy makers, OECD and EC representatives. The country teams will work towards the co-ordination and integration of different project components, involvement of regional and local stakeholders, and dissemination of results. Links have been established with the Regional Co-operation Council to promote wider regional co-operation on local development issues.



Stocktaking and mapping of the current policy framework alongside an analysis of available data so as to understand the key challenges facing each country, in particular their sub-national dimension.

Application of OECD criteria and a dashboard technique to measure the capacity which exists at the local level.


Development and validation of an Action Plan which will set out concrete policy options to overcome barriers and realise potentials.


Key areas


Employment and skills

Capacity of employment services and training providers to promote labour market efficiency and contribute to more and better employment for all groups of the population at the local level.

Promote sustainable and inclusive employment and skills development. This project area will examine the capacity of employment services and training providers to promote labour market efficiency and contribute to more and better employment for all groups of the population, in line with EU requirements and practices.


Entrepreneurship and SMEs

With a focus on the capacity to promote and sustain entrepreneurship and SMEs, and the national and local framework conditions, this theme will also incorporate an assessment of the local dimension of the Small Business Act criteria.

Promote entrepreneurship and enterprise creation and growth. The evaluation of local capacity to promote and sustain entrepreneurship and the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will include an assessment of framework conditions that are set by national government, as well as those conditions that are the result of the policies of local governance actors (including state and non-state actors).


Social inclusion

Examined in this theme will be the local dimension to strategy design, development and implementation and the involvement of non-governmental actors, such as the social economy and its role.

Foster social inclusion for all groups of the population. Social inclusion is a pressing issue across most of the region with spatial and group disadvantage particularly in evidence. Whilst social inclusion is, to varying degrees, ‘on’ the agenda of all of the countries in the Western Balkan region (such as through national social inclusion or poverty reduction strategies) it remains necessary to assess the local dimension to addressing disadvantage.


Local capacity for strategy making and delivery

Whilst this issue is features in the three areas above, it will also be considered within the national framework for local development and alongside issues such as wider local participation, leadership.

Implementing national policies, adapt them to local needs and, where relevant, design and deliver place specific strategies. The capacity assessment will focus on broad issues as whether the national policy framework is conducive to effective local development and the strategy making process is participatory; whether there is leadership able to drive the process and the capacity to implement policies at the local level, including appropriate skills, competences and resources; as well as what strategy delivery mechanisms and institutions exist. 

For a detailed project description, please download this conceptual framework.



Country reports: for each country a report will be produced providing an assessment of local development capacities; outlining recommendations and Action Plans for policy and institutional framework improvement; and identifying capacity building needs and priorities that could be addressed in 2012-2013.


A synthesis report: a synthesis report on the Western Balkans region will be produced outlining key challenges related to local development capacity in the region and providing recommendations and action plans for a cross country co-operation to support local development.



For further information about the project please contact Ekaterina Travkina, Project Leader and Stefano Barbieri, Head of the LEED Trento Centre.


Documents connexes