ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION APPROXIMATION PROGRESS IN ALBANIA

The history of Albania toward EU integration started in 1991, but year 2004 marked the beginning of approximation of national legislation to the EU one, when the TAIXE program was launched in the regional countries. For more than 11 years Albania has embarked a very important task, which still needs further efforts to fully comply with EU requirements.

In the field of environmental legislations, from 2004 till 2011 have been made efforts to transpose new environmental legislation according to EU requirements, but they were more considered as a temporary step toward the full transposition of EU directives to national legislation. This intermediate phase, which was considered necessary for countries with a history like Albania (till 1992 under the communist regime) lasted till 2009-2010, where also institutions started to be more consolidated and EU requirements were being understood more and more. In this regards, during 2004-2010 attempts, were made to approve new laws on specific issues related to horizontal legislation, but still they did not meet EU criteria. Other environmental fields as water management, climate change, nature protection, waste management were left behind or the new laws and by laws were still far away from what EU requires.

In 2009-2010 started the first project funded by EU Delegation in Albania, called INPAEL, which assisted the Ministry of Environment for the transposition and approximation of national environmental legislation to EU acquis, which lasted till 2011, where important laws regarding horizontal legislation (Environmental protection, Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental permitting), waste management (the new national strategy and plan on waste management was approved and the new law on integrated waste management) and other by laws were approved in line with EU directives. Given the situation, some of the new laws were given one year and a half time as a transition period until to enter fully into force for implementation.

Following the years another project, SELEA I, funded also by EU Delegation in Albania, continued the job as INPAEL from 2012 till 2014 to assist the Ministry of Environment, marking important steps toward transposition of environmental legislation not only important laws (law on integrated water management, law on air quality, law on strategic environmental assessment etc), but also on producing specific by laws (as the one on treatment of specific waste streams etc). Following the last year, the Ministry of Environment has organized several Public Hearings for new laws and by laws for several chapters of Environmental acquis, especially on waste management, industrial pollution, horizontal legislation etc.

As stated in the last EU Progress Report 2014, there has been little progress in the fields of environment and climate change. Significant further efforts are needed in all areas to strengthen administrative capacity and to ensure proper implementation and enforcement of legislation and its further alignment with the acquis. Waste management is particularly poor and the quality of water and air is low. Overall, resources remain limited and substantial investments are needed. Systematic strategic planning needs to be established. The country needs to put forward by the first quarter of 2015 its intended contribution to the 2015 Climate Agreement. Overall, preparations are at an early stage.

ALBANIA AND EU INTEGRATION PROCESS

1991: Albania and the European Economic Community start their first diplomatic relation
1992: Signature of the Collaboration and Trade Agreement
1997: The Council of General Affairs of EU establishes political and economic criteria for the Balkans
1999: Albania begins the preparation of the feasibility study for the Stabilization and Association Agreement
2000: the feasibility study has been approved therefore Albanian products are allowed to enter the EU. The same year, the European Council of Feiras defines countries of Association and Stabilization Process to be “potential candidate countries” for EU integration.
2001: First year of CARDS program (assistance to the countries of South-Eastern Europe with a view to their participation in the stabilization and association process with the European Union implementation in Albania). During this year, the EU Council of Ministers asked the Commission to start the design of the draft directives for the negotiation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, and Consultative group EU-Albania was established
2002: The draft directive for negotiation of the SAA was approved marking the beginning of negotiations for signature of SAA for Albania
2003: Stated the First Round of Negotiations for the SAA and it was initialed the Readmission Agreement Albania/EU
2004: EU launched the TAIXE program for countries part of the stabilization process for harmonization of legislation with the EU one. Following that year the European Partnership report was approved by the Council of Europe and Albania was invited to draft a Plan to address priorities of the latest report
2005: The Council of Europe approves the decision for priorities of a Reviews Partnership for Albania, and in Luxemburg the Agreement of Readmission Albania/EU was signed.
2006: The Temporary Agreement between Republic of Albania and European Commission for Trade and Trade Cooperation enters into force
2007: Council of Ministers of Government of Albania approves the National Plan for Implementation SAA for 2007-2012
2008: The SAA was ratified by 25 Member States, and it was initiated the process of visa facilitation between Albania and EU
2009: the SAA entered into force; then the application for EU integration was delivered, which was later that year approved; the EU Parliament approved the report of MEP Tanja Fajon for visa liberalization in the West Balkan Countries. The Country receives the first the European Commission Questionnaire
2010: Entered into force visa liberalization for Albanian citizens travelling to Schengen states
2011: It was approved the Action Plan for fulfillment of recommendations of the European Commission for the application of Albania to enter EU. Following that year, it started the process of Action Plan Revision to fulfill recommendations for the Opinion
2012: the Revised Plan was approved and the European Commission recommended Albania to be granted with “the candidate status”, as long as it approves key measures for the judicial reform and public administration and the rules of Parliament
Based on the progress the country had made, the European Commission recommends the Council to grant Albania the “candidate status”, as long as it continued to take measures and actions to fight against corruption. In the following years (2013-2014) there were developed 4 meetings for the High Level Dialogue between Albania and EU. On 24 of June 2014 Albania was granted the “candidate status” by 28 Member states.

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Top Findings

Finding
1

The management of water resources to date has proved challenging, failing to ensure their sustainable integrated management, and even less so, to tap into this potential.

2

Challenges are numerous: on an institutional level, the competences assigned to the different institutions are often unclear and conflicting, further amplified by insufficient inter-institutional coordination.

3

On a legislative level, the process of implementation of the EU Water Directive 2000/60/EC, together with the inventory and assessment mechanisms of the status of water resources, is reported as incomplete.

4

In January 2014, the new law on environmental permitting entered in force, laying down the rules for permitting for different categories (Type A, B, C) of operation for certain activities, which pollute the environment in Albania. The actual procedures applied with respect to the EIA and Environmental Permitting is not in line with the newly adopted legislation and therefore not in line with the acquis communautaire.

The Council of Ministers Decision approved lately “On Defining Rules and Requirements for the Procedures for Information and Inclusion of Public in decision making processes during preparation of EIA” states specifically rules and requirements for all involved stakeholders and timeline to respect for the process of public information for the EIAs. The new law on environmental assessment approved in 2011, went through some changes, where the National Centre of Licensing was discharged to any function it had in the first time the law was approved, leaving duty space for all procedures of accepting and evaluation of EIA reports to the National Environmental Agency and Ministry of Environment.

5

Albania is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change due to its steep topography, heavily populated low lying coastal zones, and reliance on water for energy and agriculture. Upstream soil erosion and downstream sedimentation are already causing significant problems with drainage, irrigation and power infrastructure, and flooding. However on the ground nothing has change as much, as the implementation of the laws remains a weak point for the country. Climate awareness at all levels remains low and cooperation between all relevant stakeholders requires further strengthening

6

The law and the National Action Plan on renewable enrgy sources are in place

Top Recommendations

Recommendation
1

Restructuring of institutional and administration structures (creation and functioning of Technical Secretariat of National Water Council), the progressing work for drafting of management plans for all river basins in compliance with EU Water Directive 2000/60/EC and EU Flooding Directive 2007/60/EC, the establishment of the electronic cadastre for water resources, and the establishment of the asset management system etc.

2

Improving capacity of river basin councils and river basin agencies to enable them to enforce legal and regulatory procedures, and ensure a sustainable management of water resources, are some of the immediate steps to be accomplished within a short and mid – term period in water sector management.

3

Major efforts are required from MoE finalizing and enabling approval of secondary legislation, preciously DCM “On Water Priority Substances”, DCM “On River Basin Management Plans”, DCM “On Urban Waste Water Treatment”, DCM “On Water Environmental Quality Norms” etc.

4

A major concern is the enforcement of environmental permitting by the responsible authorities. Strengthening of capacities is however required to ensure the full implementation of new rules and procedures.

The quality of compliance of environmental standards remains a permanent problem in Albania. The EIA processes are not properly carried out, or the quality of assessment and reports are lagging behind. In addition, public access to information and participation in decision-making are still not properly ensured or have weak contributions to the EIA, SEA or Environmental permits. Further efforts are required to be taken in these directions.

5

Adoption and improvement of environmental/energy legislations providing direct or indirect contributions on climate change issues, such as minimising CO2 emissions, or protection from climate change effects, etc. Albania should take mitigation commitments consistent with those of the EU and its Member States for the purpose of the post- 2020 climate agreement.

6

Still a comprehensive country-wide climate policy and strategy is lacking. Significant efforts are still required to enhance the country’s monitoring, reporting and verification capacity.



EU environmental policy categories

Legislation:

1. Law no.111/2012 “On Integrated management of Water resources”, which entered into force in December 2013
2. Law no.29/2014 “On the adherence of the Republic of Albania in the amendments of Convent of Helsinki on Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers”
3. DCM no. 267/ 2014 “On Approval of the list of priority substances in the field of water policies”

Implementation:

In support of the implementation of the law “On integrated water management” (approved in 2012), major efforts are required from MoE finalizing and enabling approval of secondary legislation, preciously DCM “On Water Priority Substances”, DCM “On River Basin Management Plans”, DCM “On Urban Waste Water Treatment”, DCM “On Water Environmental Quality Norms” etc.

Legislation Gaps:

Still the legal framework of water management issues is not yet completed to ensure a full transposition of EU Directive regarding to river basins.
This is one of the environmental sectors where very low steps are toward transposing EU legislation.

Implementation Gaps:

Despite the plentiful stock, the management of water resources to date has proved challenging, failing to ensure their sustainable integrated management, and even less so, to tap into this potential. Challenges are numerous: on an institutional level, the competences assigned to the different institutions are often unclear and conflicting, further amplified by insufficient inter-institutional coordination. On a legislative level, the process of implementation of the EU Water Directive 2000/60/EC, together with the inventory and assessment mechanisms of the status of water resources, is reported as incomplete. Additional improvements in this sector include: restructuring of institutional and administration structures (creation and functioning of Technical Secretariat of National Water Council), the progressing work for drafting of management plans for all river basins in compliance with EU Water Directive 2000/60/EC and EU Flooding Directive 2007/60/EC, the establishment of the electronic cadastre for water resources, and the establishment of the asset management system etc. While establishment of environmental quality norms for surface water resources in compliance with EU Directive, improving capacity of river basin councils and river basin agencies to enable them to enforce legal and regulatory procedures, and ensure a sustainable management of water resources, are some of the immediate steps to be accomplished within a short and mid - term period in water sector management.

Legislation: Implementation:
Legislation Gaps: Implementation Gaps:
Legislation:

DCM no. 246, date 30.04.2014 “On Norms of Environmental Quality in ground waters”

Implementation:

Authorities responsible for monitoring of environmental quality of ground waters – The National Environmental Agency – should develop periodic monitoring of quality of ground waters and should follow all procedures for penalties in case of outside pollution, especially of industries or other activities along the river, lake or seas water sides.
So far monitoring is very rare and not consistent from the authorities.

Legislation Gaps:

This by-law is very specific to some environmental quality norms for water surfaces and does not cover the common water pollution parameters. Generally when water sampling and monitoring of water surfaces are developed in different rivers of the country, the laboratories developing the analysis use their own allowance polluters’ quantity.

Implementation Gaps:

So far monitoring is very rare and not consistent from the authorities. Rivers across the country are mostly polluted and no periodic monitoring of ground water quality is performed. No measures are taken to improve quality of ground water parameters.

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Legislation Gaps: Implementation Gaps:
Legislation:

Law no. 9115, date 24.07.2003 “ On Environmental Treatment of Urban Waste Water”

Implementation:

This law is very old and not in compliance with EU Directives. The objectives of the law are: i) Urban waste waters; ii) Industrial Waste Waters; iii) Agricultural drainage waters; iv) and other waste waters.

The institutional framework presented in the law is very obsolete, considering that three governments have changed since then, presenting different institutional frameworks.

Legislation Gaps:

New legislation is needed, as the old one is very obsolete and not in compliance with EU Directives. A new law is needed followed by appropriate by laws.

Implementation Gaps:

Very old as implementation procedure, needs to change.

Legislation:

DCM no. 246, date 30.04.2014 “On defining quality environmental norms for ground water surfaces” This by-law is in compliance with EU Directive 2008/105/EC of European Parliament and the council, date 16 December 2008 “Environmental Quality Norms in the Field of Water Policies”

Implementation:

Authorities responsible for monitoring of environmental quality of ground waters – The National Environmental Agency – should develop periodic monitoring of quality of ground waters and should follow all procedures for penalties in case of outside pollution, especially of industries or other activities along the river, lake or seas water sides.
So far monitoring is very rare and not consistent from the authorities.

Legislation Gaps:

This by-law is very specific to some environmental quality norms for water surfaces and does not cover the common water pollution parameters. Generally when water sampling and monitoring of water surfaces are developed in different rivers of the country, the laboratories developing the analysis use their own allowance polluters’ quantity.

Implementation Gaps:

So far monitoring is very rare and not consistent from the authorities. Rivers across the country are mostly polluted and no periodic monitoring of ground water quality is performed. No measures are taken to improve quality of ground water parameters.

Legislation:

1. Law no. 8672, date 26.10.2000, “On ratification of Aarhus Convention – On Public right to access information, to partecipate in decision-making processes and to access judiciary system for environmental issues” -
2. Law no. 119, date 18.04.2014 “On the right to information” – defines public authorities obligation to guarantee citizens rights to be informed regarding materials, documents or different information produce by public authorities
3. DCM no. 247, date 30.04.2014 “On defining rules, requirements and procedures for information and inclusion of public in environmental decision making”
4. Law no. 146, date 30.10.2014 “On notice and public consultation” – defines public authorities obligation to consult groups of interest during the process of drafting laws, strategies and policies at national and local level.

Implementation:

In this regard in the Ministry of Environment there has been established the office of transparency with the public, where a commissioner is in charge to address every appeals from the public and requirement for information.
Also a web portal created in the web site of the Ministry of Environment facilitates this process since December 2014.

Legislation Gaps:

The laws being approved lately are not yet completely understood by the government bodies, as you can find several times where institutions are not being updated with the new laws and you end up following the old procedure and when then the new one as they realised it at the end of a process.

Implementation Gaps:

The laws being approved lately are not yet completely understood by the government bodies, as you can find several times where institutions are not being updated with the new laws and you end up following the old procedure and when then the new one as they realised it at the end of a process.

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Legislation Gaps: Implementation Gaps:
Legislation:

1. Law no. 10440, date 07.07.2011 “On Environmental Impact Assessment” – The aim of the law is to ensure high environmental protection through preventing, minimising and compensating environmental damage from proposed project before their approval for development; and ensuring a transparent process of decision-making, during identification, description and assessment of negative environmental impacts, in the right way and time, through including all interested parties
2. Decision no.13, date 04.012013 “On the approval of rules, responsibilities and timelines for development environmental impact assessment”
3. Law no.11 date 09.03.2015 “On the accession of the Republic of Albania in the Bilateral Agreement of South East European countries for the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment for cross border Convent”.
4. Law has been amended with Law no.12 date 18.03.2015, where specifically the role of National Licensing Center has been substituted with the Ministry of Environment
5. Law has been amended with Law no.12 date 18.03.2015, where specifically the role of National Licensing Center has been substituted with the Ministry of Environment
6. Decision of Council of Ministers no. 598, date 01.07.2015 “On defining rules and procedures for cross border Environmental Impact Assessment”
7. Decision of Council of Ministers no. 686, date 29.07.2015 “On approval of rules, responsibilities and deadlines for the development of the EIA procedure and procedure for the transfer of Environmental Statement Decision

Implementation:

The new law on environmental assessment approved in 2011, went through some changes, where the National Centre of Licensing was discharged to any function it had in the first time the law was approved, leaving duty space for all procedures of accepting and evaluation of Environmental Impact Assessment reports to the National Environmental Agency and Ministry of Environment.
The new decision no. 686 entered into force on 1 September 2015 and there are no records on its implementation.

Legislation Gaps:

No records so far

Implementation Gaps:

However despite the improvement of horizontal legislations, the quality of compliance of environmental standards remains a permanent problem in Albania. The Environmental impact assessment processes are not properly carried out, or the quality of assessment and reports are lagging behind. In addition, public access to information and participation in decision-making are still not properly ensured or have weak contributions to the EIA, SEA or Environmental permits.

Legislation:

1. Law no. 91 date 28.02.2013 “On Strategic Environmental Assessment”
2. DCM no. 219 date 11.03.2015 “On Defining Rules and procedures for consultation with groups of interests and public, and public hearings during the process of Strategic Environmental Assessment”
3. DCM no. 507 date 10.06.2015 “On Approval of detailed list of plans and programs with negative impacts into the environment that will go under the procedure of environmental impact assessment”
4. DCM no. 620 date 07.07.2015 “On Approval of Rules, Responsibilities and detailed Procedures for Strategic Environmental Assessment for the cross-border context”

Implementation:

As the new law on “Strategic Environmental Assessment” entered into force in February 2013, no new by laws were approved until 2014. The new territorial plans of Vora and Xhafzotaj prepared their Strategic Environmental Assessment based on the new law requirements. Earlier this year a new by-law was approved to define rules and requirements for the process of consultation process with the group of interest and the public hearing during the strategic environmental assessment.

Legislation Gaps:

Further by-laws are needed for the whole transposition and establishment of complete legislation framework for strategic environmental assessment.

Implementation Gaps:

This legal framework so fare is being implemented only for the local territorial plan and not for the other plans that concern environment. The legal frame work is in place but still no control and monitoring is in place to really require development of SEA for other planning sector.
The legal framework of SEA is on the way to be updated continuously. Several times Local Government Units had encountered problems with the Ministry of Environment (the competent body on evaluating and approving the SEA reports) as the procedures followed by both parties were not in line. Once the law entered into force the Ministry update its own procedure after one year, causing confusion for LGUs which were under the process of developing a local government plan.
The decision that clarified the list of plans and programs that should go under the process of SEA facilitated the process of drafting a SEA. In this case both the Ministry and the public authority are clear on whether their plan or program should go under a SEA process.

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Legislation:

1. Law no.138 date 02.05.2013 “On renewable energy sources”. This law has fully transposed EU Directive 2009/ 28/ KE of the European Parliament and Council “On Promotion and usage of energy from renewable energy sources”
2. DCM no.27 date 20.01.2016 “ On Approval of the Action National Plan on Renewable Energy Sources 2015-2020”

Implementation:

Since the law has been approved there are identified few implementation records.
The new plan sets national target objectives up to 38% of RES usage by 2020. Based on technology the plan focus on three types of Energy Sources Sectors, where targets for usage of RES are set in order to reach the 38% of 2020: 1. Renewable Energy for the Transport sector; 2. Renewable Energy for the Heating and Cooling sector; 3. Renewable Energy for the Electric Energy Production.

Legislation Gaps:

The whole legal framework regarding renewable energy is still lacking behind. Only the law that has been approved two years ago did not bring any considerable change at institutional level, mind set level and practical level. Still further by-laws are needed, as the one defining that who produced electricity through renewable energy sources can put it in the net power and get paid, or other issues related to usage of renewable energy sources.

Implementation Gaps:

Since the law has been approved there are identified few implementation records.

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