I would like to thank the National Resource Centre and Partners Albania for organising this Conference of Civil Society. It allows us to discuss the crucial role played by Civil Society Organisations in the democratic development of Albania and its accession to the European Union.
Pleased to see that so many participants, more than one hundred, are following online the Conference
The role of Civil Society will be increasingly important in the coming months and years, once we start accession negotiations. It is therefore essential for us to continue supporting CSOs development in Albania.
CSOs promote civic engagement and give voice to the least heard part of the population. Their involvement in policy-making is therefore essential but currently unsatisfactory in Albania.
Public authorities should ensure the participation of civil society in reform processes, both at national and local level, and to create a conducive environment for civil society to exercise their role.
We are also well aware of the legal and fiscal challenges that CSOs are facing, as well as the considerable financial difficulties brought in by the COVID pandemic.
The road map for civil society provides an ambitious strategic framework, which, if efficiently implemented, could resolve many open issues.
In its recent Progress Report, the European Commission was obliged to highlight that “no substantial progress has been made on the implementation of the roadmap on an enabling environment for civil society.” This state of play is not acceptable and must improve.
It is critical that the road map is implemented according to its action plan. Delaying or diverging from its objectives will only harm Albania, its citizens and the efficiency of the decision-making process.
Important efforts are still needed to have effective consultation processes with civil society before legislation is adopted. This is required under the Albanian legal framework and is a basic requirement of functioning democracies.
Consultation that are not done consistently and coherently, particularly on the most critical and sensitive subjects, may compromise the quality of new laws and future steps in the accession process.
I am sure that one of the topics of focus of today’s discussions will be the draft law on registration of non-profit organisations. I want you to know that the EU is following very closely those developments. It is important that this key piece of legislation is in line with international conventions and standards and responds to the specific needs of Albanian civil society.
There are also other critical areas where improvements are needed – for example in the area of voluntarism, which should be promoted and facilitated at all cost, rather than hampered.
The work of civil society organisations from non-urban areas also needs to be strengthened. They are less able to benefit from donors funding and less equipped to advocate for the interest of their constituency. Improving their capacity and visibility is essential.
Let me close by assuring you that the Albanian civil society has solid ally in the European Union and in the EU Delegation. I am glad that our financial support is concretely helping addressing the challenges I mentioned. We are committed to continue working hand in hand with you.
At the same time, we strongly urge institutions, from the executive to the legislative branch, from the local to the central level, to show political will and considerably step up their concrete commitment to systematically engage with civil society – as any modern democracy does.
I am looking forward to hear from the next panellists on Democracy and Civil Society
I wish you a successful discussion