In order to receive European Union (EU) funds under the Agriculture and Rural Development component of the Instrument for Pre-accession assistance (IPA) II, Albania has to prepare a corresponding Rural Development Programme under the 2014-2020 Instrument for IPA Rural Development (IPARD) and undertake an ex-ante evaluation. The later will, inter alia, assess the added value of EU involvement, the policy options available, the results and impacts expected and the most appropriate method of implementation. As such, this ex-ante evaluation assignment provided the Operating Structure (Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration) with an opportunity to reflect upon the comments made ahead of submitting the draft IPARD 2014-2020 programme to the Commission. The global objective of this assignment was to: • Contribute to improving the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of the EU pre-accession assistance under IPA II Component – Rural Development. The specific objective was to: • Undertake an ex-ante evaluation of the Albanian Rural Development Programme under IPARD 2014-2020. The ex-ante evaluation focused on the extent to which the future IPARD Programme reflects the priorities and overall strategy of the sector via a regular analysis of the situation and duly accounting for the Enlargement Strategy and Albania’s corresponding Progress Reports.

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