Delegation of the European Union to Albania

Ambassador Soreca's Speech at the Public Administration Reforms (PAR) Special Group Meeting

Tirana, Albania , 10/04/2019 - 14:48, UNIQUE ID: 190410_5
Speeches of the Ambassador

Citizens deserve access to services of good quality; businesses deserve to be assisted in their efforts to create jobs and economic growth; children and youth deserve access to quality education and good options to stay in this country….

We could continue with a long list on which we could all easily agree, but the point on which we should really agree today is that public administration should be part of the solution to those issues rather than part of the problem. Having a public administration that knows how to identify priorities, elaborate solutions and put them into practice is one of the key priorities for Albania to progress on the path to European integration.

Public administration is the backbone of the state and the machinery that can make reality the government's plans. The National Plan for European Integration should for example be the road map that guides the Albanian administration through the complex path of approximation towards the European acquis: it should be an enough realistic and comprehensive plan so to be thoroughly and timely implemented by the whole Albanian administration.

Sound management of the public finances can be seen as the fuel that allows the machinery to function well. Sound planning and spending of public funds is not an aim in itself. They are indispensable to deliver the best possible services in an environment of limited resources – because there will never be enough money to do everything at once. It must be clearly understood that everybody has a role to play in this process! This includes every line ministry, every municipality, independent institutions; but also the Parliament overseeing the planning and use of the state budget; and last but not least Civil Society Organisations and the citizens of Albania.

Experiences in previous enlargements showed the importance of having a strong administration, both during the lengthy and cumbersome screening process and – more importantly – when a substantial flow of structural funds will have to be managed. The recent reorganisation of Ministries has however not yet delivered the expected results in terms of enhancement of the Albanian administration to deliver results.

Local governments are part of the same equation; they are key instruments as the level of governance closest to the citizens in delivering public services and meet their needs. Albania has undertaken important steps so far, notably the territorial administrative reform, but the decentralisation process needs to be further advanced and sustained, both in terms of legislation as well as finances, if the municipalities are to ultimately perform their duties effectively and efficiently.   

Several recommendations were given in 2017 at the last PAR Special Group. Discussions today will tell us how far you progressed on those. But even more importantly we need to agree on the way forward to continue progressing in the direction of reforms.

Albania has in fact come a long way: several important laws have been approved in the past years: the Civil Service Law, the Code of Administrative Procedures, the Organic Budget Law, the Law on the Right to Information and the one on Public Consultations. Good efforts have been done to provide better services to citizens. You have started to assess the economic and social impact of the new laws proposed to the Parliament.

We should now continue in the right direction. I would like to specifically highlight some priorities for action:

  • Maintain an open and transparent recruitment of civil servants – avoiding the use of shortcuts;
  • Continue with the reform of the state administration – in particular of the agencies and subordinated institutions;
  • Make the Code of Administrative Procedures applied across the board;
  • Use public consultations as a real tool for policy making and to promote citizens' participation;
  • Improve the management of public investment – putting the rules on paper into practice in all ministries and reducing existing fragmentation;
  • Re-double efforts on decentralisation, enabling municipalities with adequate resources to perform their duties.   

Again, we could continue with a long list…but these are the main topics I wanted to signal to you. I wish you an excellent day of work and discussion!

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