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138132 - Further Strengthening the Assembly of Albania in the context of EU Accession (AL Parliament) (HR 14 IB EN 01) - Albania
Deadline: 29 Jul 2016   CALL EXPIRED

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1. Basic Information

1.1 Publication notice reference: EuropeAid/ 138-132/IH/ACT/AL

1.2 Programme: IPA 2014 Action Programme for Albania

1.3 Twinning Number: AL 14 IPA JH 01 16

1.4 Title: Further Strengthening the Assembly of Albania in the context of EU Accession (AL PARLIAMENT)

1.5 Sector: Public Administration, Justice and Home Affairs 1.6 Beneficiary country: Albania
2. Objectives
2.1 Overall Objective:

To improve the regulatory and oversight functions of the Parliament in order to strengthen the efficient fulfilment of the obligations stemming from EU-Albania Stabilisation and Association Agreement and the EU accession process.

2.2 Project purpose:

To further strengthen the capacities of parliament for a more efficient approximation of legislation; to improve oversight functions of the parliament in relation to the work of the government and independent institutions; to strengthen the financial and budgetary autonomy of the Parliament; to enhance transparency and the administrative capacities of the Parliament.

2.3 Contribution to National Development Plan/Cooperation agreement/Association Agreement/Action Plan

This Twinning Project will directly contribute to the objectives mentioned in the following strategic and/or programming documents:

Indicative Country Strategy Paper (adopted on the 18.08.2014) sets out the priorities for EU financial assistance for the period 2014-2020 to support Albania on its path to EU accession. The Country Strategy Paper states that there is a need to further strengthen democratic institutions in particular the role of the parliament for national consensus building.

The European Commission’s 2014 Progress Report on Albania noted that progress has been made on the functioning of the parliament of Albania. However, the Report points out that further action is needed to improve the law-making and oversight role of the Assembly, notably, further strengthening the monitoring role in relation to the work of the independent institutions, including the appropriate follow-up to the findings and recommendations of these institutions; further enhancing the transparency in the law-making process, including the

timely publication of the minutes of committee meetings and adoption of clear rules on the public consultation.

Assembly’s Action Plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the EU Progress Report 2014 on Albania sets out five objectives to be achieved by the Assembly during the year 2015: 1) strengthening the legislative function of the Parliament; 2 strengthening the oversight role of Parliament; 3) strengthening the transparency of Parliament; 4) strengthening the financial and budgetary autonomy of the Parliament and 5) strengthening the administrative capacity of the Parliament.

National Plan for the European Integration (NPEI) 2015-20201 underlines the need to improve the functioning of the Assembly of Albania, in order to better perform its legislative and oversight functions, in line with the best practices of national parliaments of the EU member states. The NPEI 2015-2020 states that the work of the parliament will be focussed in achieving, during the mid to long-term period, the following objectives: 1) strengthening the legislative function of Parliament; 2) strengthening the oversight role of Parliament, 3) strengthening transparency in the work of the Assembly, 4) strengthening the financial and budgetary autonomy of the Assembly from the government and 5) strengthening the administrative capacity of the Assembly.

The Roadmap to address the 5 key priorities recommended by the EC2 stipulates that the Assembly is a responsible institution for the implementation of some of the measures related to Priority 1 “Reform of the public administration”, priority 2 “Reform of the Judiciary” and Priority 5 “Protection of human rights”.

The Twinning Project “Strengthening the Assembly of Albania”, which was implemented by the Hungarian National Assembly in consortium with the French National Assembly and the French Senate during the period January 2012-June 2013, recommended measures, aiming to further strengthen the regulatory and oversight functions of the Assembly. The recommendation of the previous twinning that are not implemented yet are foreseen as actions to be implemented in this project.

3. Description

3.1 Background and justification

The Assembly of Albania plays a fundamental role in the democratic system of the Republic of Albania. It is the highest law-making body which considers and approves the proposed legislation. The Assembly also exercises the function of political control over the government as well as monitors the implementation of obligations stemming from the EU- Albania Stabilization and Association Agreement, and the EU accession process, through the instruments of parliamentary oversight, stipulated in the Constitution and the Rules of Procedures of the Assembly. In addition to legislative and oversight function, the Assembly exercises representative functions. MPs and parliamentary groups, representatives of the

ruling majority and the opposition, develop political debates in the Assembly as representatives of the voters’ interests.

In the last two years the Assembly of Albania made significant progress towards being a parliament which functions in line with EU best practices. Both the legal framework governing the organization and functioning of the parliament, the structure and the mechanisms of its operation has been reviewed with a view to further improve the Assembly's the law-making and oversight role in general and in the EU integration-related issues in particular. On 5 March 2015 the Assembly adopted by consensus the Law No. 15/2015 "On the role of Parliament in the process of integration of the Republic of Albania in the European Union". The aim of this law is to strengthen the law-making and oversight role of Parliament in the EU integration process. This new law provides the establishment of the National Council for European Integration, as the highest consulting structure in the process of EU integration.

Despite significant improvements in the functioning of the Assembly in recent years, the further consolidation of democracy and parliamentarism in Albania as well as the challenges brought about by the new phase in which Albania entered after receiving the candidate status for EU membership in June 2014, make it necessary to further improve the functioning of the Assembly in order to better perform its constitutional functions of lawmaking and oversight, in line with the best practices of European parliaments.

For an effective EU law approximation process, a clear regulatory framework is needed.

The provisions of the new law No.15/2015 improved the legal framework governing the process of approximation of legislation and the compliance check of the draft-laws with the EU acquis, during their scrutiny in the Assembly. However, the entry into force of this law3 requires that the Assembly of Albania take further measures in order to ensure its proper and effective implementation. For this purpose an analysis of the effects of this new law on the legislative procedures and the methodological basis of the work of the Assembly, in relation to the approximation process of domestic law with the EU acquis, should be prepared. Based on the conclusions and legal recommendations of this analysis, amendment to the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly and modifications to other relevant internal rules and regulations governing various bodies and services of the Assembly need to be prepared and adopted in order to bring them in compliance with the provisions of the law No 15/2015.Moreover, a database of the approximated laws, guided by the principle of traceability need to be created in the parliament. The set-up of this parliamentary data base would facilitate the parliamentary works, especially during the accession negotiations.

On the other hand, defined objectives of the Assembly can be achieved only with a parliamentary staff who is well-trained on the issues of the EU integration and legal approximation. The trainings that were provided by previous IPA project “Strengthening the Assembly of Albania”, were based on horizontal approach-and aimed at increasing the general knowledge of the Assembly administration on the EU-related issues. Therefore, further specific trainings of the Parliamentary staff dealing with the legal approximation –based on vertical approach- are needed. This can be achieved with focussed and in-depth trainings, accompanied by workshops, seminars, study visits, publications, etc.

Despite the improvements in its oversight functions, the Assembly of Albania should continue addressing challenges in this regard. The EC Progress Reports for the last years

(2013 and 2014) point out that the parliament’s oversight role need to be strengthened. As the parliamentary oversight is the weakest function currently performed by the Assembly of Albania, the improvement of oversight capacities is given an important place in the project.

The entry into force of the law No 15/2015 requires that the Assembly assess the compatibility of the current rules and procedures in force with the provisions of the new law, and, if necessary, amend them in order to bring them in compliance with the parliamentary oversight-related provisions of the new law. Based on the Law No.15/2015 the Assembly has also established the National Council for European Integration (NCEI), as the highest national consulting structure in the process of EU integration of Albania. Support for the elaboration of the relevant internal rules and procedures on the organization and functioning of this new structure, as well as general and in-depth trainings of MPs, members of this structure and of its technical secretariat, on the role that this new parliamentary structure should play in the process of the European integration, is of crucial importance.

Moreover, in view of the preparations for the opening of the EU accession negotiations, it is important that the Assembly of Albania assess the current mechanisms available for monitoring the EU integration process and establish a parliamentary oversight mechanisms on the EU accession negotiations that will be conducted between the government of Albania and the EU institutions. For this purpose, a comparative analysis of the best practices for monitoring the EU accession negotiation used by the national parliaments of the EU Member states, that went through the process within the last 20 years should be carried out. Based on this analysis the Assembly of Albania will adopt the oversight model/mechanisms for monitoring the EU Accession negotiations that best fit to the Assembly of Albania. The Assembly has also to set up appropriate mechanisms for effectively monitoring the activities of the independent constitutional institutions and those established by law in relation to the EU integration issues.

The parliamentary financial autonomy is indispensable in a democratic country and one of the preconditions of an effective separation of powers, between the legislative and executive branches in relation to the financial issues. One of the key findings of the previous IPA Project was that the Assembly does not have budgetary autonomy from the government, which is not in compliance with the principle of the separation of powers stipulated in article 7 of the constitution of the Republic of Albania. In order to address this recommendation, the Assembly of Albania has established a Working Group, to carry out an assessment of the existing constitutional and legal framework on the financial and budgetary independence of the parliament from the government and to prepare a draft-law on the budget of the Assembly which will provide the legal procedures for drafting, approval and implementation of Parliament's budget, independently from the government, based on the European best European practices in this field. In this framework, further support from high profile-experts coming from national parliaments of the EU member states is considered of crucial importance, for the successful realization of this important parliamentary reform.

Last but not least, a democratic parliament should be transparent, accessible and accountable. For a parliament to fulfil its democratic mission, it is of vital importance to have effective communication with citizens and the civil society. The last Progress Reports and the recommendations of the previous IPA project highlighted the need to further strengthen the transparency and the involvement of the civil society in the legislative process, as well as to improve the public information on parliamentary activities and parliamentary documentation. Therefore, the transparency on the activity of the Assembly in general and in the EU-related issues in particular should be further strengthened. For this purpose, we intend to review the

Rules of Procedure of the Assembly (article 39, point 2) in order to bring it in compliance with the highest standards of transparency in the activity of the standing parliamentary committees and to develop a Communication Strategy for the Parliament. On the other hand, a well-trained parliamentary staff can very much ease and support the work of the MPs in general and could contribute to the transparent operation of the parliament as a heart of the democratic set up of any country. Therefore, the staff will be trained and seminars, workshops, etc. will be organised to reach the targeted aim.

This twinning fiche is linked with the previous Twinning Project “Strengthening the Assembly of Albania”. As a follow-up to the previous twinning project and based on the above mentioned justifications, a new twinning project, in support of the Assembly of Albania under IPA II, was planned by the Assembly of Albania and approved by the EU in 2014. The aim is to ensure the consolidation of the results and the implementation of the recommendations from the previous project that are yet to be implemented as well as to ensure the proper and effective implementation of the provision of the new law No 15/2015. In addition, taking into account that the opening of the EU accession negotiations is the next step in EU integration process for Albania, further support is needed for the Assembly of Albania to respond to the new challenges that this new step brings about.

3.2 Linked activities

The Twinning Project “Strengthening the Assembly of Albania”, financed by the European Union in the framework of the IPA 2010 Programme for Albania was composed of 5 Components: 1. Improved legislative procedure for a more effective EU approximation process; 2. Strengthened legislative, coordinating and awareness raising capacities of the Committee for European Integration and of all the other standing committees on European integration activities; 3) Strengthened oversight capacity for all standing committees; 4) Improved communication and information activities for the Parliament and 5) Improved management of parliamentary budget and human resources, in accordance with the EU standards.

The implementation of the project was to a large extent a success. All the mandatory results of the project were achieved. During the 18 months of the duration of the project were implemented 94 activities according to the 5 components of the project. A large number of staff members of the Assembly was trained and became familiar with the EU, in general and the role of EU national parliaments, in particular. Several guidelines were developed for the improved functioning of the Assembly's several services. 15 Information materials on parliamentary practices and activities for EU/related issues were developed, published and distributed.

Besides detailed training programs of the Assembly staff in various fields, the project experts have developed guidelines and recommendations, which aim at strengthening the Assembly, through the introduction of new procedures and methods in the functioning of Parliament, according to the best practices of the functioning of the national parliaments of the EU Member States. The Assembly of Albania has taken the necessary decisions in order to adjust its legal and administrative system for the handling of EU affairs, according to the project proposals and recommendations. The recommendations made by IPA project are also included as priorities in the Parliament’s Action Plan for the implementation of EU Progress Report for Albania for the years 2013 and 2014 as well as priorities in the budget forecasting of the Assembly Services for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.The majority of these recommendations

either are fully implemented, or are in the process of implementation, and the rest will be implemented in the framework of this twinning project.

3.3 Results

The project will achieve the following results:

Result 1. Improved legislative procedure and working methods of the Assembly for a more effective EU law approximation process.

The main indicators of achievement for this result are:

  • -  Analysis of the effects of the new law No.15/2015 on the legislative procedures and the methodological basis of the work of the Assembly is prepared.

  • -  Draft-amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly and to other internal rules based on the new law No. 15/2015 are prepared.

  • -  Efficientapproximationoflegislation,basedontheadequateenforcementoftheprovisions of the new law No.15/2015 in relation to the legal approximation process.

  • -  “Manual on the System of Verification of the Compatibility of the Albanian Legislation with the EU Acquis at the Parliamentary Level” is prepared and published.

  • -  Capacities of the staff strengthened.

Result 2. Strengthened parliamentary oversight capacities in relation to the work of the government and independent institutions

The main indicators of achievement for this result are:

  • -  Analysis of the effects of the new Law No.15/2015 on the oversight role of the Assembly in relation to the European integration process is prepared.

  • -  Draft-amendments to the Rules of Procedure and modifications of other relevant internal rules accordingly prepared.

  • -  The oversight capacities of the Assembly are strengthened.

  • -  Capacities of the relevant staff strengthened.

Result 3. Strengthened financial and budgetary independence of the Assembly from the government, in line with the European best practices.

The main indicators of achievement for this result are:

  • -  An analysis of the existing legal framework on the financial and budgetary independence of the parliament from the government is carried out.

  • -  A special draft-law on the Assembly budget is elaborated and finalised.

  • -  Draft-amendments to the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure and to other relevant internal rules and regulations in force are prepared, aiming to bring them in compliance with the provision of the new draft-law on the Assembly’s budget. Capacities of the relevant staff strengthened

Result 4: Strengthened transparency and administrative capacities of the Assembly

The main indicators of achievement of this result are:

  • -  Proposal for the review of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, in order to bring it in compliance with the highest standards of transparency in the activity of parliamentary Committees is prepared.

  • -  Number of research papers, legal/technical analysis and background documents produced by the advisors of the legislative service and the experts of the Research service of the Assembly.

  • -  Capacities of the relevant staff strengthened.

3.4 Activities

Activity 1: Improve legislative procedure and working methods of the Assembly for a more effective EU law approximation process

The MS may propose additional activities in line with with the mandatory results. The following list of activities is indicative.

  • Preparing an analysis of the effects of the new law No.15/2015, on the legislative procedures and the methodological basis of the work of the Assembly, in relation to the approximation process of domestic law with the EU acquis;

  • Prepare and publish a “Manual on the system of verification of the compatibility of the Albanian Legislation with the EU Acquis at the Parliamentary level”, based on the European best practices on the legal approximation of national law with the EU Acquis;

  • Advanced training of all advisors of the Legislative Service on EU acquis in relation to the negotiating chapters;

  • Specific Training of the staff of the Unit for Approximation of Legislation on the methodology and techniques of legal approximation of the national law with the EU Acquis;

  • Creating a parliamentary database for the approximation of legislation guided by the principle of traceability, in order to facilitate the parliamentary works, especially during the EU accession negotiations;

  • One study visit of the staff of the Unit of Approximation of Legislation and the staff of the Secretariat supporting the Committee on European Integration to the counterpart structure of the national parliament of an EU Member Sate.

Activity 2: Strengthen parliamentary oversight capacities in relation to the activity of government and independent institutions

The MS may propose additional activities in line with the mandatory results. . The following list of activities is indicative.

  • Preparing an analysis of the effects of the new Law No.15/2015 on the oversight role of the Assembly in relation to the European integration process;

  • Issuing recommendations on the best oversight model/mechanisms to be adopted by the Assembly of Albania for monitoring the EU Accession negotiations;

  • Basic and advanced training of the members of the Technical Secretariat of the National Council on the European Integration, based on the training needs assessment of this new structure;

  • Strengthening capacities of the Economic and Financial Committee to oversight the implementation of the state budget and public finances, as well as to follow up the recommendations of the Reports of the Supreme Audit Institution (High State Control) in relation to the implementation of the state budget and the spending of the public funds.

  • One study visit of the selected staff of the Legal Service of the Assembly, the Technical Secretariat of the National Council for European Integration to the counterpart structure of the national parliament of an EU Member Sate.

Activity 3: Strengthen financial and budgetary independence of the Assembly from the government, in line with the European best practices.

The MS may propose additional activities in line with mandatory results. The following list of activities is indicative.

  • Preparing an analysis of the existing constitutional and legal framework on the financial and budgetary independence of the parliament from the government, based on the best European practices in this field;

  • Preparing a draft-law on the budget of the Assembly, which should provide the legal procedures for drafting, approval and implementation of Parliament's budget, independently from the government (depending on legal recommendations of the analysis conducted in the framework of the activity of point one above);

  • Preparing draft-amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly and to other relevant internal rules and regulations, with a view to bring them in compliance with the provisions of the new draft-law on the financial and budgetary independence of Parliament that will be elaborated in the framework of activity of point two above;

  • One study visit of the MPs, Members of Secretariat for the Budget of the Assembly and the relevant administrative staff, to the counterpart structure of the national parliament of an EU Member Sate.

Activity 4: Strengthen transparency and administrative capacities of the Assembly

The MS may propose additional activities in line with mandatory results. The following list of activities is indicative.

  • Analysing and preparing proposals for the review of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, in order to bring it in compliance with the highest standards of transparency in the activity of parliamentary Committees;

  • Advanced training of the legal advisors of the Legislative Service and Monitoring of the Independent Institutions Service on the traditional/new methodologies of legal research, academic legal writing, case-law and legal reasoning;

  • Training of the staff members of the Parliamentary Publication Service on the best practices relating to the transcription and the preparation of minutes of the meetings of the parliament bodies and plenary sittings as well as the materials for publication;

  • Training of the staff members of the Parliamentary Research and Library Service on the best practices of parliamentary research;

  • Training of the IPA Unit staff of the Assembly on the project design and implementation.

 



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