Reflection on Albanian legislation related to decentralization in local self-government in the light of EU legislation
The Constitution of the Republic of Albania defines the principle of decentralization of power as one of the basic principles based on which the local government is established and operates. In its three dimensions, political, administrative and financial, it is exercised through the implementation of the constitutional principle of local autonomy. The treatment in the Albanian legislation of these dimensions, in any case, has aimed to bring it closer to the requirements of international documents and standards. The Electoral Code of the Republic of Albania regulates the implementation of political decentralization, such as the transfer of political authority to the local level, through elections for local self-government bodies. The legal framework for the organization of local government, for local self-government and financial decentralization regulates the way of organization in the territory of the local government, the ways for the transfer of responsibility for matters of administration of some central public functions of the local unit and the financial power. The international observers of the OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission, CoE, evaluate the Electoral Code as a legislative product that reflects the principles and standards for democratic elections. The drafting of legislation for the organization and operation of local government has been developed as a complex process, with international support and expertise, but, in any case, with great political burdens. In this legislation, the main requests expressed in the international documents and in the EU legislation have been addressed, in relation to the political, social and economic context of Albania. The efforts of the Albanian society for legislative reforms aimed at improving the legal framework for the most effective functioning of the principle of decentralization and local autonomy, are faced with two main challenges: (i) the great political burden that accompanies any such initiatives and reforms and (ii) the lack of will to implement the legislation. Efforts to centralize decision-making on important issues of regional and local development and to replace decentralization with the process of deconcentration, contradict the principles and requirements set forth in international documents for the decentralization of local government.
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