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Irish-led Consortium Wins 5 million euro EU Grant to Provide Food Safety Support to Albania

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

A consortium of Irish government agencies and their international partners has won a €5m EU grant to support Albania as a candidate for accession to the European Union, by strengthening its food safety, veterinary and plant health standards, over the next four years. The consortium is led by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), and includes the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with project management by Sustainable Food Systems Ireland (SFSI). Other partners are the Finnish Food Authority, and an Albanian partner, Creative Business Solutions. The project started with the deployment of an expert team to Tirana in mid-January.

To implement the project, the FSAI and its partners will field experts in food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary systems, to help Albania to harmonise its legislation to EU norms, to strengthen safety at all stages of the food chain and to improve consumer and business awareness of food safety issues in the south-eastern European country.

The partnership provides Albanian authorities with unique access to counterpart organisations and individuals in two EU Member States which have directly comparable responsibilities under EU food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary law, and long experience in reforming food safety policy and management systems over the last three decades. Ireland and Finland consistently rank among the world’s leading examples of food safety and food security. Under the project they will bring this experience to Albania to strengthen its food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary systems in line with EU standards.

Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee TD is currently on a regional visit to Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. At a press conference held in Tirana with Mr Luigi Soreca, Head of the Delegation of the EU to Albania, Mr Bledi Çuçi, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Albania, and Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI, Minister of State McEntee said “this is an important collaboration between Albania and two EU Member States – Ireland and Finland – with funding support from the European Union. This is a great example of the European Union in action, with EU Members supporting a candidate country to harmonise its laws and regulations with European norms, and helping create a food safety system and culture that matches the best examples in the world.”

Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI said “We, along with our project partners, are very excited to have the opportunity to support Albania, an EU candidate country, to improve its food safety, animal and plant health capabilities. Ireland’s international reputation in food safety is excellent, and working with countries to improve their food safety standards will enable Ireland to protect consumers both at home and abroad. We are particularly delighted to be working with the Finnish Food Authority and building on our existing great relationship with them. With strong commitment from all our consortium partners, we were in a position to put together a winning bid and start work with the EU to help Albania align its food safety systems with EU standards.”

SFSI is a grouping of five agri-food agencies led by DAFM and including Teagasc, Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia, in addition to the FSAI. It was set up to provide Irish expertise in agriculture and food in international markets. SFSI works government-to-government as well as bidding on large-scale international tenders.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed commented “SFSI, supported by my Department and relevant State agencies, promotes Ireland as a place in which the production of high quality sustainable food is underpinned by world class science, research and food safety standards. It offers partner governments and organisations globally a single point of access to Irish agriculture and food expertise covering diverse technical skills.”