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Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) and Albania as well as of the Energy Community Secretariat met on 7 March 2019 in Tirana to discuss recent developments and the level of implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and approximation of the country legislation to the EU acquis in the areas of transport, energy, environment and climate change and regional development.
The meeting was chaired for Albania by Mr. Sokol Dedja, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and for the delegation of the EU by Mr Detlev Boeing, SAA coordinator and connectivity desk in the Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina Unit of the DG for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.
On connectivity the Commission noticed some progress since the London Summit. Albania continues to actively support the activities of the WB6, including the Connectivity Agenda and related reform measures. The EU urged Albania at the same time to step up efforts on implementing connectivity reform measures in the areas of transport and energy.
On transport, Albania reported on the latest measures aiming to improve road infrastructure. The Commission recalled the need for sustained efforts for safer roads and develop intelligent transport systems in road transport. Albania is fully committed to proceed with the adoption of implementing legislations to the Railway Code and setting up of railway authorities. The Commission acknowledged some improvements in air safety and air traffic management. Albania has to pay particular attention to improving the quality of vessels under its flag.
On energy the Commission appreciated the support of Albania for clean energy transition as confirmed at the recent meeting of WB6 Ministers of Energy and Environment in Podgorica. However, the electricity sector reform should be accelerated. The good progress in the gas sector should be followed by the strengthening of administrative capacity and inter-institutional cooperation. The national energy strategy 2018-2030 should have been aligned better with the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The Commission urged Albania to accelerate the alignment of its energy efficiency legislation respecting the obligations under the Energy Community Treaty.
The Commission welcomed further efforts in alignment with the EU acquis on environment but indicated concerns with regard to the decision of Albania to suspend plans for a cross-cutting strategy. It welcomed the intention of Albania to review current or planned large investments in hydropower with a view to the requirements of EU environmental legislation (e.g. EIA) and nature protection, and expects prompt concrete actions. Water and waste management areas continue to require significant investments and strengthening of monitoring. The Commission expects further progress in transposing EU key water directives and in strengthening implementation agencies. Fighting plastic pollution and improving air quality in cities remain particular challenges for Albania and other WB countries. The Commission also expects further strengthening of civil protection through a new law and the formation of a dedicated agency.
As for climate change, the Commission urged Albania to adopt its National Strategy on Climate Change and related action and adaptation plans. Albania should pay more attention to alignment with the EU climate acquis. Albania needs to address the increased staffing and skill requirements on climate action and ensure adequate climate change structures in the government.
The Commission and Albania exchanged also views on regional development and progress on related legal and institutional measures.