Taking regional development to a new level: regional development agencies are becoming relevant actors with greater influence at regional level. With so many opportunities which vary from agriculture to tourism, innovation and technology, RDAs represent indispensable actors for economic development.
After the 1989 revolution, Romania expressed a strong interest in joining the European Union and finally succeeded to reach its goal in 2007. Thus, Romania started adopting the EU approach on regional development policy. Despite the common historical background, culture and geographical proximity, Moldova registered a slower progress than Romania. However, Moldova made important steps towards the establishment of the institutional framework and policies in order to support regional development in a similar fashion to Romania’s.
The history of regional development policy in Romania started during 90s and culminated with the establishment of the 8 regions for development and several institutions through the Phare program. There are many bodies and entitites responsible for carrying out the regional development activities; however, a special focus is placed on Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). RDAs grew from small NGOs with 10-20 employees back in 90s, to strong and relevant actors with an average of 100-200 employees nowadays at regional level and they are still progressing.
RDAs are non-governmental bodies, for public utility and with legal personality, which operate in various fields specific to regional development. RDAs are offering a wide range of services, such as regional planification, implementation of international projects, strategic partnerships and external cooperation, urban development, attracting private investments, smart specialization strategies, the management of innovation and the internationalization of businesses, the development of ecosystems and regional entrepreneurship. Throughout time, each agency became an engine of social-economic development in each region. The agencies are responsible for the elaboration and the promotion of strategies, they are attracting resources and identifying opportunities in order to support the development which would sustain a dynamic economy. More information about the role of the agencies and their activity in Romania could be found here.
While in the case of Romania we can talk about a succesfull story regarding the evolution of RDAs status, in Moldova regional development is a new concept and the institutional framework requires many changes in order to operate with greater efficiency. There are 4 regions for development: North, Centru, South and the autonomous regions of ATU Gagauzia and Transnistria. As a member of Eastern Partnership, the Republic of Moldova is receiving significant financial resources and technical assistance from the European Union; thus the future of regional development looks promising, considering also its aspiration to join the EU. More information about the RDAs in Moldova could be found here.
Moldova is also active in cross-border cooperation with its neighbours Romania and Ukraine. This represents another opportunity for public authorities, NGOs and private sectors to get European funds for projects in various fields such as supporting local businesses, preserving cultural heritage, agriculture, environment and others.
In conclusion, RDAs have a crucial role for the economy of both countries. RDAs are the actors which bring the national policies at regional level with a greater efficiency, taking into account their capacity and enthusiasm to mobilise the various partners to bring real benefits to society.
Written by Anatolie Carbune, former Project Officer at EURADA