Kukes (AL), 5 July 2013
Only a few days after Albanian national elections, the Assembly of European Regions (AER), together with the region of Kukes, gathered Presidents of Albanian regions as well as European stakeholders, representatives of NGOs and experts to tackle the issue of the future competences of the Albanian regions. The Albanian associations representing local authorities, the Communes – Counties – Local autonomies – Municipalities – were also present. This event was meant to open an in depth discussion about governance challenges and the country’s future territorial organisation.
Although regions are quite recent – they were set up in 2000 – time has come to assess the current administrative structure and find out how governance could be improved in Albania. Regionalisation is, indeed, a lively process! Among the outcome of the discussion was the need of clearly defining the competences of the various administrative levels: prefectures, regions and the different local levels. Participants agreed that a first constructive step forward to increase the dialogue between all existing associations would be the setting up of a common association gathering all local and regional authorities, which would both promote the reinforcement of the regions and improve the cooperation between all levels. Mr Ibsen Elezi, President of Kukes region: “We call the new government to implement a bold national strategy on regional development. This strategy has remained at a theoretical stage until now. If we want to exist at European level, our country absolutely needs to turn this strategy into a reality now.”
Concerning regional administrations in Albania, it is unanimously recognised that until now, Qarks (regions) lack capacities to fulfil their tasks in the fields of economic development, social care, professional trainings, environment and tourism. Participants unanimously agreed that, beside the necessity for the regions to get more competences and their own budget, there is a real need for a legal framework. The AER President, Dr Hande Özsan Bozatli, warned that “If you want to fit in the European Union strategy, it is essential that you all sit around the table and find a consensus to set up a clear repartition of competences. The regional level must also gain more capacities in order to be able to obtain EU funds.”
As it has done many times in the past for other countries wishing to organize a new administrative structure and access the European Union, AER makes its expertise and experience available to all Albanian regions in the process of regionalization. AER helps them to gain access to EU programs and to benefit from EU funds, crucial tools for the development of territories.
Albanian regions members of AER: Berat, Dibër, Durrës, Elbasan, Fier, Gjirokastër, Kukës, Lezhë, Shkodër, Tiranë, Vlore
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together 250 regions from 35 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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