++ Annual report of the European Commission for Albania – During 2017, the environment remained one of the most problematic areas ++
Yesterday, the European Commission published the 2017 Report for Albania, according to which the environment continues to be one of the most problematic areas. The report states that although Albania has made some progress in terms of aligning policies and legislation with the acquis, it must make serious efforts for their implementation and enforcement. The report emphasizes that Albania still needs to make progress in the field of approximation and implementation of horizontal environmental legislation.
The report includes the issue of new hydropower plants built in protected areas and emphasizes as a priority in the field of environment for the following year the need to strengthen the Environmental Impact Assessment process, especially for the hydropower sector. At the same time, public consultation is also problematic, for which effort is needed in the direction of participation and the implementation of an effective public consultation process, within the decision-making process, especially at the local level.
One of the biggest problems in the field of environment, according to the report, continues to be the lack of a secondary legal framework for environmental responsibility and irregular permits and requirements, which prevents the creation of a fair process and assessment of environmental responsibility for damage to the environment.
Recommendations regarding developments in the field of environment continue to be similar to those of recent years. The problems related to the construction of HPPs have been mentioned in the previous reports of the European Commission and have been in the attention of the European Community even earlier. In 2014, the European Parliament approved the Resolution on Albania’s 2014 Progress Report. By means of this resolution, in points 26 and 27, the EP asks the Albanian Government to stop the construction of hydropower plants in all protected areas and in particular in the Vjosa River and its tributaries.
The EC report for 2017 was published on the same day as the decision to recommend the opening of conditional negotiations for Albania’s EU membership. Albanian citizens expect the government to follow and implement with priority the recommendations of the Report as a condition for EU integration.