Dear Mr Minister,
Last week I had the pleasure to launch the EU campaign ''Today for Environment'' in your company, Minister Klosi and Ambassador Håstad. The fact that we are gathered again to talk about environment speaks volumes about its growing importance as a policy area in Albania.
Environment and climate policies will be the top EU priority in the mandate of new European Commission. In its first 100 days in office, the Commission will propose a "European Green Deal" to make Europe the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050, as well as a world leader in circular economy and clean technologies.
These objectives will be included in the EU legislation and, especially, in Chapter 27 of the EU acquis. To put it simply, they will also become obligations for Albania once the negotiations start.
Chapter 27 of the EU acquis is the most complicated and costly for candidate countries to implement. It contains horizontal legislation on air quality, waste management, water management, nature protection, chemicals or noise protection.
It includes 73 directives that Albania has to approximate with its legislation. This acquis chapter and its evolution will require both large investments and hard work.
The EU has been supporting and will continue to support Albania to make progress in the area of Chapter 27.
At the moment, we support Albanian authorities with an important technical assistance project on waste management in Kukës and Gjirokastër. Several other Albanian municipalities will also benefit.
The alignment of the water sector will be heaviest requirement in terms of infrastructure investment and transition period. The needs are huge, estimated at more than 5 billion Euros for the Urban Waste Water Treatment directive only. But the European Union and its Member States are already mobilised to assist Albania. The EU together with Austria and Germany, finances capacity-building for an amount of 4 million euros. And the EU, Germany and Switzerland will start implementing very large sector investment programme worth 126 million euros from 2020.
Also from 2020, Albania will receive additional support through the new programme on Circular Economy and Green Growth, which has been prepared in close cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Environment. The EU will allocate almost 3 million EUR in technical assistance for the preparation and implementation of legislation related to waste.
With a view to this, Albania needs to carefully plan its interventions and investments. The resources coming from donors and Albania's own budget will have to be prioritised in a smart way. Additional resources to harmonise national laws with the EU acquis can be mobilised by using the ''polluters pay'' principle, for example.
In addition to financial resources, Albania will also have to mobilise human resources to work on Chapter 27. Donors can support with technical assistance – and let in this respect pay tribute to Sweden for its commitment in this area. But the performance of the Albanian public administration is of utmost importance.
With all stakeholders acting together, I am confident that we can achieve great results. Our campaign Today for Environment precisely tries to bring the country together on the necessity to address environmental issues. You will need fully informed and mobilised citizens to carry the fundamental changes that come with Chapter 27.
Awareness raising is essential at this stage of the process. I'm happy we are working together in the same direction, on the cultural, legislative and policy shift that is needed to deliver a greener Albania.