Support to The Albanian Ministry of European Integration SMEI II

Activities

International conference organized by the Ministry of European Integration and University of Tirana in the framework of SMEI 3 (Support to the EU Integration Process Phase III) Technical Assistance Project – Tirana, 30 May 2014

Konferenca

SMEI 3 (Support to the EU Integration Process Phase III) Technical Assistance Project in close cooperation with Ministry of European Integration and University of Tirana organized the International Conference on the "Approximation of Albanian Legislation with the EU's Acquis: Prospects and Challenges". Albanian Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, Minister of European Integration and EU Delegation's Chargé d'Affaires addressed the conference among other relevant representatives from academia and various institutions

Speaking at a conference Prime Minister Edi Rama said that in the same way it launched accession negotiations with Serbia, the EU should grant candidate status to Albania and liberalize visas for Kosovo for they deserve this. He said that the approximation of the Albanian legislation to the EU Acquis is not about simply making the Albanian laws look like the EU ones, but is rather a process of implementing the EU legal provisions in a reality that should become an integral part of the European reality. Rama said that differently from the previous government his cabinet sees the approximation as a law-enforcing process rather as a law-drafting one. 

In his remarks at the event, Assembly Speaker Ilir Meta called for the contribution of all political stakeholders to improve the Albanian legislation and bring it into line with the EU Acquis. Minister for European Integration Klajda Gjosha presented the Roadmap on the five priorities set forth by the European Commission in regards to Albania’s EU integration process.

SMEI 3 High Level Workshop “Priorities of the EU integration process in 2014”  Tirana, 3 March 2014

High Level Workshop 3rd March 2014

"The priorities of Albania in 2014 for the process of integration into the European Union." This was the subject of the workshop held today, organized by the Ministry of European Integration, in cooperation with the SMEI III project. Present at the event were, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Niko Peleshi, the Minister of European Integration, Mrs. Klajda Gjosha, the European Union Ambassador of Albania, Mr. Ettore Sequi, the technical assistance expert of the European Union SMEI III, Mr. Adam Lazowski, and other ministers of the Government Cabinet.

The Minister of European Integration, Mrs. Klajda GJosha, emphasized that Albania has reached a point of no return in it’s EU integration process. "We have to continue intensifying the reforms. Membership in the European Union is possible only with the existence of active and comprehensive institutional coordination," said Minister Gjosha in her speech. Furthermore, she added that the workshop is focused on “three important pillars”"In the first instance, we are working on addressing the five priorities set by the EU. An Action Plan will be presented on the 6th of March. Also, trained working groups from all ministries are working on the implementation of the National Plan SAA, 2014-2020, and also the preparations of the progress report, which is another important priority for Albania. ” said the minister.She emphasized the necessity of intensive cooperation by line ministries, since this will be essential to the success of this process, and to the immediate accomplishment of further integration steps.

The EU’s Ambassador to Tirana, Mr. Ettore Sequi expressed support and encouragement for the continuation of the process. Mr Sequi emphasized that among other things, political willingness.
"In my experience, in order to be successful in any attempt that we have to make, three things are required: the first is the vision, followed by resources, and not only financial resources, and finally the political will. I am very happy that I see here in this room all the right components for having this vision. We have the resources of the European Union, coupled with the resources that Albania already has, and we feel the strong political will, " said Ambassador Sequi.  The Ambassador highlighted that the National Integration Plan must be not only a strategic step, but also a reference document. The National Plan according to him should be a guiding document for public administration.

 Dr. Adam Lazowski, listed some of the priorities that should be implemented in view of the integration process, focusing on the technical level, in which alignment of the legislation is seen as a great advantage. "Admission to the European Union requires the coordination of all stakeholders. The five priorities are very important, as well as the National Plan, and should be synchronized with the National Strategy for Development and Integration ", said Lazowski.

The Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi said that integration is the largest project in Albania, and there is no lack of political will by the government.  "Each sector must be in harmony with the integration process." He said. Furthermore, according to Peleshi, this common desire and willingness of each stakeholder in Albania, competes not only with aspiring member states, but also with member countries of the EU. "The political class possesses an exemplary consensus in relation to the other member states in the EU, as in Albania there is no political force, large or small, that does not support the EU integration process. The society also fully supports this process, "said Mr. Peleshi.

Representation and contribution of the Civil Society in the European Integration process

On the 10th of January 2014, the Ministry of European Integration organized a roundtable on the topic “Representation and contribution of the Civil Society in the European Integration process”. In this roundtable, different Civil Society Organizations participated. It was attended by 44 participants. The roundtable was headed by the Deputy Minister of European Integration Mr. Gentian Elezi.

The Deputy Minister of European Integration, in his opening remarks, after welcoming the participants, introduced the beginning of a new phase of cooperation between the Civil Society (CS) and the Ministry of European Integration (MEI).

In his speech, Mr. Elizi stressed that the comprehensive inclusion of all the actors in the civil society, and their contribution, is very important in the process of European integration.

In the roundtable, the Head of the Directorate for the Implementation of the Priorities and European Secretariat, Mrs. Vjolca Lleshi, introduced the special structure established in this Directorate, called the Civil Society and Strategy Sector, which has the duty to ensure the coordination of work between the Ministry of European Integration, the institutions of public administration, and the civil society organizations, in order to increase the contribution of CSOs to deepen the dialogue on the implementation of the expansion and integration reforms.

In her speech, Mrs. Suela Kusi, Deputy Team Leader of SMEI 3 Project, congratulated the representatives of the Ministry of European Integration and the initiative taken for enabling the formalization and institutionalization of cooperation between CSOs and MEI through the creation of the Civil Society Sector within MEI.

Mrs. Kusi, on behalf of SMEI 3 project, expressed readiness to cooperate with the Ministry of European Integration CSOs representatives, with the aim of identifying the ways and modalities of their cooperation. She referred to the experiences in the Balkan region. She mentioned the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which has created the National Council for European Integration; Serbia and Montenegro, which have involved CSOs in the negotiation process as members of working groups for the Chapters 23 and 24, and others. 

Mrs. Kusi introduced a document on "The Guidelines of the European Commission Directorate General for Enlargement in support of Civil Society and Candidate Countries 2014-2020”. This document provides for, as part of the enlargement policy, the support of the Civil Society and the stimulation of participatory democracy in the country.

Mrs. Kusi briefed the participants on Project initiative to conduct a study/assessment for measuring the degree of involvement of civil society and academic institutions in the reforms, conducted as part of the European integration process of the country. The study also aims to explore new opportunities and ways to increase the participation of non-governmental organizations/academic institutions in policy making, and informing the public about the changes that occur in this process. 

For this purpose, SMEI 3 has prepared three questionnaires, one for CSOs, one for the Public Administration Institutions, and one for the Academic Institutions. The findings of this evaluation will be discussed in a Roundtable organized for this purpose, with representatives of the EU Delegation in Tirana, the Ministry of European Integration, the civil society, and the academic institutions in the country.

Advanced Training in EU Sector Policies: Social Policy and Employment

The SMEI 3 Project in close cooperation with Albanian School of Public Administration organized a two-day training course for civil servants of the public administration on Chapter 19- Social Policy and Employment, on the 18th and 19th of December, 2013. The training included 16 lectures.

The aim of the training sessions was to provide civil servants with a working knowledge of EU Labor law and social policy; to examine the case law of the Court of Justice regulating employment rights; to consider the key Treaty provisions and secondary legislation of EU social law and policy; the nondiscrimination policies and gender equality; to consider EU employment law and social policies in the context of the Internal Market; to examine the provisions for employee participation in company decision-making and management; to examine EU Health and Safety provisions; and to consider the operation of the Working Time Directive.

In the training session, 34 participants from different institutions were present, including: the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Equal Opportunities; METE; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports; the Ministry of Interior; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of Environment; the Authority of Fiscal Supervision; DoPA; and the Ministry of Transport and Public Works.

In the first day of the training, the trainer discussed different topics regarding Social Policy and Employment. The discussion focused on the role of social dialogue; framework agreements on part-time and fixed-term work as case studies; employment protection (collective redundancies, transfers of undertakings, insolvencies); health, safety and the working environment (working time and leave, pregnancy and maternity); and worker involvement in undertakings.

In the second day the training focused on: the Open Method of Co-ordination as a technique; Examples of OMC – employment policy, social policy; gender equality; gender equality, anti-discrimination law; the internal market and social policy; the modernization of the EU labor law, and social policy.

Advanced Training in EU Sector Policies: Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments

The SMEI 3 Project organized a two-day training course for civil servants of public administration on Chapter 22- Regional policy and coordination of structural instruments on the 12th and 13th of December, 2013.

The trainers of these sessions were Dr. Riccardo Crescenzi, the London School of Economics & Dr. Eglantina Gollaj, the Head of the NIPAC sector, and the Ministry of European Integration. 16 participants attended this training.

The first session started by looking at regional disparities in the European Union and linking them to the rationale of the EU Regional Policy. Subsequently, the logic, functioning and impacts of the EU regional policy were analysed, in order to discuss how this policy might contribute to the process of addressing the increasing spatial disparities and developmental problems in the most disadvantaged regions.

The second session focused on the debate on the future of the EU regional policy, and the case of Albania. This session focused on the challenges of the European territories, by analyzing the evolution of the EU regional policy in the framework of the more general debate on the future of the EU budget and all its policies (Barca Report; Smart Growth; EU 2020). The session also introduced the linkages with ‘agricultural and rural development’ policies and the potential advantages and disadvantages of the ‘new’ policy model. The session explored the case of Albania in the context of the implementation of the EU regional policy.

During the training sessions, the participants had the opportunity to discuss and raise questions about different issues regarding the regional policy, and the coordination of structural instruments.

Workshop: “Priorities for Moving Forward on the European Integration Path”, Tirana, 12 December 2013

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The Ministry of European Integration, in cooperation with the Technical Assistance Project “Support to EU Integration (phase III, SMEI 3) organized on December the 12th, 2013, in the Sheraton Hotel, a High Level Workshop entitled “Priorities for Moving Forward on the European Integration path”, addressed to senior government officials of the Albanian Government.

The aim of the Workshop was to discuss with the Albanian Government authorities the different phases of the enlargement process and the main challenges that Albania has to undergo on the way toward the integration process, from now up to the accession. Also, the Workshop discussed the best ways by which Albania can address those challenges, and the ways that the Delegation of the European Commission in Tirana can facilitate this process.

The workshop was attended by senior representatives of the Albanian Government (Deputy/Ministers responsible for European Integration Issues of all line ministries, Secretary Generals and Directors of the Cabinets of all Ministries).

Advanced Training in EU Sector Policies: Freedom, Security and Justice

The SMEI 3 Project organized in close cooperation with Albanian School of Public Administration, a two-day training course for civil servants of the public administration Chapter 24 - Freedom, Security and Justice, on the 10th and 11th of December, 2013.

The aim of the training was to provide civil servants with a working knowledge of Chapter 24, Freedom, Security and Justice; to examine EU policies and legislation for police and judicial cooperation; to consider how the mutual recognition principle is used in criminal and civil proceedings; to consider the operation of free movement rights and EU citizenship; to examine the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights; to examine EU asylum and immigration policy; to examine the principles of Schengen cooperation within the Treaty; to consider the position and rights of third country nationals in the EU; to examine how Albania as a pre-accession country participates in security and asylum and immigration policies; and to consider the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and how this may assist candidate countries. 

In these training sessions, 40 representatives of different institutions participated, such as: the Ministry of Integration, the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Finance; Equal Opportunities, the Ministry of the Interior; the Foreign Ministry; and the Department of Public Administration.

During the training sessions, the participants had the opportunity to discuss and raise questions about different issues regarding freedom, security and justice. 

Advanced Training in EU Sector Policies: EU Common Agricultural Policy and Rural Policy

The SMEI 3 Project in close cooperation with Albanian School of Public Administration organized a two-day training course for civil servants of the public administration on Chapter 11- EU Common Agricultural Policy and Rural Policy on the 26th and 27th of November, 2013. 

In the training session, 17 participants were present from the following ministries: Ministry of Integration, Ministry of Finance, CFCU; Ministry of Labour; Social Protection and Equal Opportunities; Ministry of Public Works and Transport; Ministry of Interior; METE; ASPA; Competition Authority; Agency of Public Procurement; Ministry of Agriculture.

The aim of the training was to provide civil servants with a working knowledge of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and consider how EU policy promotes the CAP and rural development, as well as to consider the objectives of the CAP; to examine the legislative framework of the CAP; to examine the relationship between CAP and the Internal Market; to consider the objectives of Rural Policies and how they are employed by Member States; to examine the criteria and rules for of the CAP; to consider how CAP and Rural policy interact with the main elements of EU Cohesion policy; to consider the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and how this may assist candidate countries.

At this stage of the preparation, it is crucial for Albanian officials to obtain a comprehensive understanding of EU law and policy. The training sessions operated in tandem with the training materials, and were intended to provide a significant starting point from which to obtain the necessary information required by key relevant components of the acquis.
During the training sessions, the participants had the opportunity to discuss and raise questions about different issues regarding the agriculture and rural policies.

Advanced Training in EU Sector Policies: Intellectual Property Rights and Free Movement of Workers.

The SMEI 3 Project organized a two-day training course for civil servants of public administration on Chapter 7- Intellectual Property Rights and Chapter 2 – Free Movement of Workers respectively on 4-5 June and 6-7 June 2013.

At this stage of the preparation, it is crucial that Albanian officials obtain a comprehensive understanding of EU law and policy, and how this impacts existing Albanian legislation. The training sessions operated in tandem with the training materials, and were intended to provide a significant starting point from which to obtain the necessary information required by key relevant components of the acquis.

The training sessions illustrated that significant work is still needed to ensure that there is an improved coherence to both the understanding of the subject matter of these two Chapters, and how they are relevant to the existing and future Albanian laws and practices. 

The training sessions illustrated that there is still a lack of coordination amongst the ministries. In Intellectual Property regulation, there are multiple ministries involved and it was clear from participant discussions that there is limited knowledge of what activities are taking place. This can lead to incomplete or inconsistent action being taken.

Similarly, in Chapter 2 there are many horizontal issues relating to free movement of workers, which should be streamlined across many Ministries, and the training sessions provided a forum through which these could be brought up and discussed.

Follow-up training activities should be considered which offer opportunities for more practical ‘hands-on’ training, which is led by experts. This could take the form of two-day seminars in which day one consist of recent developments and a particular focus on enlargement issues/impact, and day two offers more practical workshops.

Organization of training in EU Sector Policies for Inter-institutional Working Groups – Chapter 23 “Human Rights and Judiciary”

The SMEI 3 Project, in close cooperation with the Albanian School of Public Administration, and the Ministry of European Integration, organized from May 29th to30th 2013, a two-day training course for 23 civil servants of public administration on Chapter 23 - Judiciary and Fundamental Freedoms.

The training course was designed to provide participants with an introduction to the Court of Justice of the European Union and its composition, organisation and jurisdictional functions. The institutional position of the Court was placed in the context of the EU’s system of governance and the development of fundamental rights. Specific emphasis was placed on policies of importance for the enlargement process.

Two days of training (16 lectures) were given in Tirana at the MEI on the 29th and 30th of May 2013, by Professor Jeffrey Kenner, University of Nottingham, Great Britain, and Dr. Suela Kusi, Professor of Human Rights, University of Tirana, SMEI 3 DTL.

The training was carried out using a seminar method. The slides were shown on PowerPoint. Also, the website of the Court of Justice of the European Union was accessed for a practical demonstration of how to find cases and background documentation easily. Each lecture included time for interactive discussion and questions. Most participants were able to attend for the two full days.

Participants were very interested in the detailed jurisdiction of the Court of Justice and the relationship between the Court of Justice and the national courts and administrations of the EU member states. We were able to discuss many practical issues arising from the operation of the preliminary reference procedure. We also discussed the obligations that the Charter of Fundamental Rights places on member states when implementing European Union law. 

Finally, we discussed the impact of EU accession to the European Court of Human Rights, both on the EU legal order and on the Council of Europe’s supervision of human rights.
By the end of the training all participants had a good knowledge of the workings of the Court of Justice of the EU, and the protection of fundamental rights.

A HANDBOOK ON BRUSSELS AND WHY IS IT NEEDED

Manuali gazetareve

The Ministry of European Integration and the (SMEI 3) Project have recently presented a journalists’ handbook entitled “EU INFORMATION SOURCES AND TOOLS FOR ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS’, an important communication component for those journalists that report on the European Union and its institutions. 

Covering Albania-EU relations is no easy task, especially if you are kilometers away from Brussels or Strasbourg. The number of important players that are involved, such as the EU and its respective institutions, as well as the projects and programs backed by the EU, is large, and sometimes, without the right knowledge, getting the needed information for a story might be a real challenge for a journalist. 

The fact that EU often uses jargon and acronyms when dealing with an issue doesn't make this challenge any easier. From Tirana, the European Union might look like a big labyrinth, with endless tunnels and dead ends, but in fact, with the right sources and tools, it’s a rich mine of information.
The handbook presented by the SMEI 3 Technical Assistance Project, based on experiences of foreign and Albanian reporters, aims at being a guide for the Albanian journalists on the EU and its institutions, point them to the resources and people from whom they can get the right information for a given story. 

The handbook offers a variety of important information, not only for journalists, but also for anyone interested in the European Union and Albania-EU relations. Here one will find a short history of the EU and the Albania-EU relations, accompanied by the biographies of the EU founding fathers and important dates for the Union; tips on finding the right information sources; a glossary of EU jargon, acronyms and terms; detailed information on EU institutions and point of contact for each institution. The manual also explains in detail the difference between each EU institution, their purpose and their leadership, as well as the difference between the Council of Europe and the European Council.

For those journalists planning on a report on Brussels, the manual offers tips on getting the EU Press Pass, as well as how to make an EU related story appealing for the Albanian audience. For a fair and balanced report, the manual offers a code of ethics, a system of guidelines that help strengthen professional integrity, and a cornerstone for a journalists’ credibility.

INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP "EUROPE 2020 STRATEGY AND ITS RELEVANCE TO ALBANIAN NATIONAL STRATEGIC PLANNING"

EU 2020

The international workshop "Europe 2020 Strategy and its Relevance to Albanian National Strategic Planning” was organized by the SMEI 3 TA Project in framework of the "The Week of Europe “, on the 10th of May 2013, at Tirana International Hotel. The workshop brought together very well known Albanian and international professors of law, philosophy, economics, and cultural sciences.

The group of scientist has been chosen firstly for its capacity of an enlightened audience with affiliation for conceptual and strategic analysis, and secondly, its emphatic orientation to the future, which in the case of Albania would mean integration with the "future of an enlarged and united Europe".

The welcome note and general introduction was done by Dr. Suela Kusi, SMEI 3 D/Team Leader and Mrs. Elda Kalaja, General Secretary of Ministry of Integration of Albania. Who both commended the high profile audience for their interest in the topics, as well the SMEI 3 project for enabling the public discussion around such interesting topics.

Professor Adam Cygan, of the University of Leicester, set the stage for the discussion of the participants by a discourse on the main principles, pillars and activities contained in Europe 2020 Strategy. Mrs. Valbona Kuko, the General Director of DSDC, elaborated on the impact Europe
 2020
 strategy
will have on 
drafting the new NSDI 2013-2020 for Albania. She shared that the new NSDI is in process, and towards the end of the activity she promised to share it with the Women in Science group, for comments and input prior to making it final and sending it out for public consideration. 

Prof. Jera Kruja, the newly appointed Rector of the recently established University of Medicine in Tirana, touched upon the new challenges of the Albanian medicine sector within the upcoming European trends.

Prof. Jeffrey Kenner, from the University of Nottingham, Prof Milika Dhamo, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tirana, and Assistant Prof. Merita Xhumari, Professor of Social Policies, University of Tirana, and Mr. Sokol Dedja PhD, discussed the European Social Protection and Social Inclusion Policy Platform against poverty and social exclusion, each from their respective field of expertise.

Prof. Arta Mandro, School of Magistrates, Head of the Continuous Training Program For Judges and Prosecutors, looked at the Europe Strategy 2020 from the legal point of view, reiterating the indispensability of aligning the legal framework to best legally accommodate the new trends in all the areas. Interesting to the audience was the presentation by Prof. Anila Paparisto, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Tirana University, on Research & Development in Albania and its perspectives in the European context. She was emphasising the urgent need for Albania to start investing in statistics and technology & innovation. 

This need was highlighted also by Prof. Luljeta Bozo, Polis University, during her presentation on energy, environment and sustainable development. Education was emphasized by all the speakers, and by Assistant Prof. Mariana Sinaniin particular, as the driving force to ensure smart, sustainable and efficient growth. Culture and tourism were also put on the development agenda by both the presenters: Associate Prof.. Iris Pojani , Faculty of History and Philology, Tirana University, and PhD. Zhulieta Harasan,i UNESCO national consultant, as well as the other participants during the discussion session.

The organization of the International Academic Workshop on EU 2020 Strategy came at an opportune time forthe drafting of the new National Strategy for Development and Integration 2013-2020, but also for the “women in sciences academic network”, which intends to profile itself as a watch-dog voluntary organization, to ensure that the best decisions are taken for this country through transparent processes and well founded arguments.

The academic network showed its willingness to cooperate with the SMEI 3 project, with the NSDI and the Ministry of Integration providing its expertise which covers a broad range of areas.
The raising of awareness around the Europe Strategy 2020 will continue through peer discussions, and also through students taking the classes related to the specific Strategy areas.

SMEI 3 PROJECT TRAINING FOR JOURNALISTS ON HOW TO REPORT THE EU INTEGRATION PROCESS FROM TIRANA

Forty journalists, who cover political and economic issues for the Albanian electronic and print media, participated on May 22nd 2013, in a one-day intensive workshop entitled “Reporting on EU integration Process from Tirana – Guidelines on EU Resources and Tools”.

The seminar aimed at training journalists to report on the European Union affairs, to get the best out of the EU and to use the wide range of sources available to add to their coverage, understanding the substance of EU decision making and policies, and how to report them. Dr. Suela Kusi, deputy project team leader, delivered the opening statement, which focused not only on SMEI III mission but also on the work put into the drafting of the journalists’ handbook, and its importance for those journalists that cover Europe from Albania.

Dr. Kusi also introduced Marina Colombo, an international expert of communication, and co-author of the handbook, who highlighted some of the handbook’s main points and the challenges of covering a superstructure like the European Union, with so many levels, institutional branches and information. Also addressing the attending journalists was Mrs. Maria Laura Francios, the President of Journalism at Your Service.
Francois, the main speaker of the event, focused on EU reporting during Albania’s integration process, unfolding some of the challenges that face Albanian journalists when reporting on Brussels from Tirana, and on the conditions of Albania in the process of European integration, still without the status of EU candidate country. 

Another subject highlighted by Francois was EU information sources and key actors, giving a resume of EU institutions, their respective heads, addresses and the most efficient way to gather information.
Following a short break, taking the stage again was the main speaker, Maria Laura Francois, who this time focused on EU jargon. With the sense of humor of an experienced journalist, who knows the EU institutions from inside out, Francois gave a long list of acronyms that have become part of the EU jargon and in turn make the language of EU institutions almost non-decodable, especially for young reporters. Francois offered a key to understanding these acronyms, highlighting that the Journalists’ Handbook 2013 included a glossary of all EU acronyms.

The next stop was the press office and the EU spokespeople, with Francois explaining the spokespeople’s hierarchy as well as tips on how to get information from the EU officials. Francois paid special attention to code of ethics, a delicate aspect of communication and news reporting in a modern world, where information travels through hundreds of different mass media channels. Giving a quick preview of the golden rules of ethics in journalism, she explained that the handbook has an entire chapter on this subject. At the conclusion of the meeting, the speakers answered questions from the attending journalists, who then received an e-copy of Journalists’ Handbook 2013.

ALBANIAN CONTRIBUTION FOR THE EC PROGRESS REPORT 2013

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Albania provides a legal framework for bilateral relations between the European Union and Albania, serving as a tool for association and a vehicle for accession to the European Union. Progress achieved by Albania and its plans for European integration are discussed in the meetings of the SAA joint institutions, including the Council (which is at the political-executive level), the Committee (which is at the high official level), and seven subcommittees (at the expert level). The parliamentary oversight is provided by the EU-Albania joint parliamentary committee.

In April of 2013, the Ministry of European Integration (MEI) has initiated activities with the SMEI 3 Technical Assistance project, in order to prepare the First Contribution for the EC Progress Report of 2013 (PR). The PR is a part of the annual enlargement package of documents, which reflects the progress achieved for each candidate or potential candidate in the previous year.

The European Commission has so far prepared several progress reports for Albania, published each year in October. The Progress Report has three distinctive parts – a) political criteria, b) economic criteria and c) the ability to assume the obligations of membership, which reflectsthe acquis expressed in the Treaties, the secondary legislation and the policies of the Union. Finally, the substance of the PR is reflected in the overall approach of the EU towards Albania.

On April 15th and 16th of 2013, the SMEI III and the MEI organised two workshops. The first one was dedicated to the inputs related to the substance of Chapters 23 and 24, as well as the political criteria, while the second was related to economic criteria and the ability to take on the obligations of membership.

Both workshops were based on a document which encompassed basic inputs for the contribution prepared by MEI experts, and they were attended by the representatives of EU departments in line ministries – the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Finances, the Ministry of Health, representatives of Albanian Parliament, the Central Electoral Commission, the High Council of Justice, the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination, the Bank of Albania, the Albanian Institute of Health Insurances, etc.

During the second workshop, related to a wider range of EU policies, an introductory presentation was prepared by the SMEI 3 legal expert on the lessons learned from the previous year, in relation to the content and methodology of the PR Contribution, and the data relevant to the preparation of the Progress Report, and the structure of the document and necessary wording. It was followed by a dynamic discussion on each chapter regarding the responsibility of institutions, the type of relevant inputs to be added, and how experts from both MEI and line institutions could be of assistance to each other.

All participants expressed their commitment to securing all the necessary data. It was concluded that coordination among line ministries is essential, as well as collection of relevant data which would reflect what had been accomplished in during the previous year.
Following the workshops, the MEI experts collected all the required data from relevant institutions, and proceeded with the preparation of the PR 2013 Contribution, assisted by the SMEI III project experts. The final document was submitted to the European Commission on the 3rd of May 2013.

AN INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR THE MINISTRY OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION

In March of 2013, the SMEI 3 TA project, in cooperation with the Ministry of European Integration, organized two workshops devoted to the presentation and discussion of the conclusions of functional review (FR) and the resulting Institutional Development Plan (IPD) for the Ministry of European Integration (MEI) and the European Integration Units (EIU) in Line Ministries prepared by the TA project. 

The SMEI 3 project has prepared a proposal of an Institutional Development Plan for the Ministry of European Integration of the Republic of Albania (MEI), up until Albania's accession into the European Union, within a wider context of the executive branch of Albania‘s government. It is also dealing with the Government, line ministries, and other agencies, and the organization of European Integration (EI) related functions within these bodies. The main elements of this institutional environment of MEI are the coordinating structures and the European Integration Units (EIUs) of the line institutions.

A specific review was undertaken in this regard as well. It is an integral part of this plan. The plan is a result of a functional review of MEI, based on an analysis of (1) functions, (2) their performance, (3) processes, (4) organizational structures and (5) resources (human and material), including workload analysis, of the Ministry of European Integration and its firm hold in the external institutional environment.

The exercise started in May of 2012 and ended in March of 2013. The conclusions are based on the analysis of various official documents and assessments generated by the EU and bilateral technical assistance projects, structured interviews with the management and representatives of all structural units of MEI, heads of the EIUs, in line institutions, and other key players in the Parliament, Government Chancellery, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, data on performance provided by MEI, workload analysis undertaken through a specific short-term mission, and analysis of similar organizations in the former and existing EU candidate and potential candidate countries.

This proposal was carried out in two separate workshops with High Representatives and the managing director of the Ministry of European Integration, on the 15th of March 2013, and with directors and representatives of the European Integration Directories from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Labor, the ministry of Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Defense, the Department of Public Administration, and representatives of the MEI Directorate of European Secretariat, the Internal Market and Justice and Home Affairs.

The findings of the functional review presented by the SMEI 3 experts were well received by the participants in the two activities, and there was a common agreement that the main expected result of this plan should be a better understanding of what is necessary to build the MEI capacities to perform as a candidate country, and to successfully conduct negotiations with the EU. 

These capacities should be demonstrated in particular to show that all internal co-ordination structures for European integration are established and running, and all planning and monitoring instruments are in place, and accreditation for DIS in the area of the management of the EU assistance is completed.

Institution Building for European Integration Process, Budva, 22-25 January 2013

ToT Budva 1

Among many other activities, the SMEI 3 project has been developing and implementing a capacity development plan concerning EU policies and the accession process for the cadre of integration specialists of the Albanian administration. The first stage of this initiative focused on organizing an advanced training course in "EU Integration Affairs”. A team of 18 trainers participated in a training of trainers programme that took place in Budva, Montenegro during the 22nd to the 25th of January 2013. 

The main objective of the training was to improve the knowledge of the Albanian administration staff regarding EU policies and accession process, and further develop trainers' skills.
The training programme was designed and tailored for Albanian public administration officials working with European Integration processes.
The group consisted of government officials, public administration civil servants, and TIPA trainers, all eager to learn new things. They were very active, cooperative and open to new ideas. 

The TOT was divided in two blocs, the knowledge bloc and the skills bloc. The Knowledge Bloc was facilitated by Dr. Simon Usherwood, from the College of Europe. In this bloc, the trainers touched upon some introductory knowledge about the EU, such as the EU institutions and decision making process, the History of EU integration, the Policies of the EU, the EU enlargement policy, and the Management of the Accession Process (Pre-accession phase, SAA, Candidate Status, legal harmonization, compliance checking, progress reporting, promotion and training functions), etc.

The Skills Bloc was facilitated by Dr. Eliona Kulluri, of Bimbashi, lecturer of University of Tirana. The purpose of these sessions was to develop and/or strengthen the skills and ability of the trainers, to design a coherent and relevant programme, and to animate a training session. The following skills were developed: Communication, pedagogy, and curriculum development. 

Special focus in the training programme was given to the differences between the various types of presentations, the essential components of a presentation, the time schedule for the preparation of a presentation, the formula for effective presentation preparation, and the different approaches to the structure of the presentation, and the ability to analize the audience. Based on the request of the target audience, the training programme also consisted of presentations and exercises on team work skills.

At the end of the training, the participants were awarded certificates issued jointly by the College of Europe and the Training Institute of Public Administration.
The training programme was well-received, and the material was actively discussed and internalised. The use of active learning methods was important in this (and was reflected in interim feedback), especially in the context of a multi-day training session. This was confirmed as well from the closing session by checking together with the participants in what level their expectations were met.

Media Study Trip to European Audio Visual Services (8-12 October 2012)

Study Visit

A four day Media Study Trip to European Audio Visual Services and European Institutions (European Commission, Council, and Parliament) in Brussels was organized by the SMEI 3 Project, from the 8th to the 12th of October 2012.

The Media Study Trip involved 4 TV journalists from national TV channels, such as Top Channel, Klan TV, Vizion +, and Ora News. The SMEI 3 Communication Plan of 2012-2013 shows particular attention to strengthening journalist’s capacities, as they are considered to be the main mediators in the flow of information, and can significantly contribute in forming public opinion and creating consensus about the process of Albania's integration in Europe.

Specific arrangements were provided in Brussels to allow journalists to take TV footage which was used on TV reports related to the “Enlargement package’ adopted by the European Commission on the 10th of October 2012, as well a publication of the 2012 EC Progress Report on Albania.

The Media Study Trip happened at the same time that the Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to the European Union, as one of the defining concepts of the last half century that "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".

Call for expression of interest from qualified Albanian experts to become trainers at the Training Institute of Public Administration of Albania

16 October 2012

In line with the Strategy for implementation of the training programme of 2011 – 2013 (November 2011), and in co-operation with the Ministry of European Integration of Albania as well as the EU technical assistance project “Support to the European Union Integration Process (phase III, SMEI 3)” , The Training Institute of Public Administration (TIPA) is seeking to enlarge its pool of trainers, and therefore is inviting qualified Albanian experts to submit expression of interest to become trainers of TIPA. For more information read the complete call for expression of interest, English version at Call-for-EoI-Albanian-trainers-for-TIPA_En.doc and Albanian version at Call-for-EoI-Albanian-trainers-for-TIPA_Al.doc

ToT on SDL TRADOS, Pogradec 18-20 September 2012

ToT Trados

Support to the European Union Integration Process (phase III, SMEI 3) is a technical assistance project of the European Union, dealing with the horizontal issues of the management of European integration in Albania. The SMEI 3 technical assistance project especially targets strengthening of legal approximation, capacity building via training, and improvement of institutional and inter-institutional management of European integration demands. One of the objectives of the SMEI III project is to support MEI in view of the process of the translation of the Acquis, and more concretely by providing technical assistance on the unification and consolidation of the terminology, and the establishment of web-based translation databases.

In this framework, a TOT training for using the translation software SDL TRADOS was delivered from the 18th to the20th of September 2012, with participants from MEI staff, the Directorate of the Translation of the Acquis, and experts from other state administration bodies, tasked with translating Albanian Legislative text into English. The main objective of this event was to enhance MEI’s role as the coordinator of the translation process with regard to managing the translation process and ensuring the quality of translations from English to Albanian, and vice-versa. With the support of EU technical assistance, MEI has already installed IT support (TRADOS with all its components), valuable for getting standardized translation and harmonized terminology.

The SDL Trados system is a useful tool for managing the terminology, thus increasing the quality and consistency of translations. It provides for translation memory by leveraging existing translations, and thus reduces time, cost, and resources involved in translation projects. It also offers possibilities for project management, thus reducing project lead times and increasing the visibility of translation projects. The system has been designed to address the specific translation issues and problems that come up when translating Albanian legislation into English, to ensure accuracy and clarity at all stages of Acquis translation.

The organization of TOT provided a positive impact on one of key issues in the translation process ; standardization of terminology. Translating in TRADOS can provide a good basis for the development and on-going maintenance of online terminology databases.

Second Steering Committee Meeting, 18 July 2012

The SMEI III Project TA second Steering Committee Meeting (SCM) was held on the 18th of July 2012, in the premises of the Ministry of European Integration. SCM discussed the 1st Interim Report and proposed some improvements, which were reflected in the final version of the report. The draft for the Interim Report was presented by key experts, including the plans for the next reporting period (second semester of 2012).

The PowerPoint  presentation at SCM-presentation-18-July-2012-.ppt

The most important issues discussed are summarized below.

SMEI 3 TL explained the re-consideration of the implementation strategy for Component 2.1 (Transfer of knowledge). After an in-depth assessment in June, instead of a simple ‘transfer of knowledge’ by SMEI 3 via TIPA, SMEI 3 proposes to take a more developmental, MEI centered approach, with capacity building for MEI to define, prioritize and steer the EI trainings. In this approach, personalized lists of Albanian EI experts (civil servants), earmarked budget for EI training, and formulation of demand for training (on the basis of TNA and forward looking EI policy agenda) are the key instruments. TIPA standards are already very good, and TIPA should be able to respond to the demanded setting from MEI, while DoPA continues exercising its current functions. This is the essence of the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for development, planning and implementation of the European Integration related training for Albanian civil servants.

Such a developmental and personalized capacity building approach fits well with the preliminary conclusions about the overall approach towards MEI functional review (as presented in Component 2.2;Management and co-ordination of European integration process), and demand generated by MEI in all components (for example, the help desk and MEI staff internal training in Component 1), and the Transposition and implementation of EU legislation in Albania as presented by Mr. Adam Lazowski.

In Component 3 (EU communication strategy), activities contained in the draft plan of activities to implement in the 2008 MEI Action Plan to enhance awareness about the European integration process in Albania were presented by Ms. Suela Kusi, DTL of SMEI 3 project. All activities were planned within the allocation ceilings for Component 3. However, it was proposed that the allocations should be reviewed in the next six monthly interim report in February 2013.

Workshop on Professional and Organizational Development of MEI, Llogara 1-2 June 2012

Llogara

On the 1st and 2nd of June 2012, a two day workshop on professional and organizational development of the Ministry of European Integration of Albania was organized in Llogara Resort–Touristic Village. The workshop was a good opportunity for 48 MEI experts and staff members to get out of their offices and reflect about themselves as an organization, and reflect on the European integration in the friendly, relaxed and stimulating environment of Llogara.

The MEI Team Building event was organized in two distinct parts. The first session was designed to share and elicit experience-based ideas, feelings, perceptions and views on functioning of MEI, with a view to reach a joint recognition of the opportunity to look again at MEI’s mission and functions. The second session introduced to the participants the idea of a functional review, its purpose, possible benefits and possible modes of implementation. Overall, the program was appreciated by the participants, who recommended that in the future such retreats related to professional agenda should be organized on a regular basis.

Call for Expression of Interest from Albanian Experts

In April of 2012, the SMEI 3 technical assistance project to the Government of Albania published a call for expression of interest from qualified Albanian short term experts, in order to create a pool to be used in the future for consulting services in the following policy areas:

  • Policy area No. 1: Transposition and implementation of EU legislation in Albania, with particular emphasis on certain areas of EU law (listed on the websites specified below).
  • Policy area No. 2: Capacity building of Albanian administration through European integration related training.
  • Policy area No. 3: Management and coordination of the European integration process for Albania.
  • Policy area No. 4: EU communication strategy.

From the total number of interested applicants, a shortlist was prepared, and interviews with shortlisted candidates were carried out. The process of selecting the short term experts from this pool of potential candidates is to be finalized in the near future.

First Steering Committee Meeting

Following the submission of the project inception report on the 23rd of March 2012, the first Steering Committee Meeting (SCM) of SMEI III TA Project was held on the 3rd of April 2012 in the “Europa” conference room on the premises of the Ministry of European Integration. The members of SC congratulated the SMEI III team for finalizing the draft inception report on time, choosing a very inclusive and consultative approach. The draft inception report was presented by all key experts, component by component, including the plans for the next reporting period (2Q 2012). The presentation can be viewed here First-SCM-presentation-3-April-2012.ppt

SCM discussed the inception report and proposed some improvements, which were reflected in the final version of the report. The SMEI III inception report was approved by the EU delegation on the 18th of April 2012. 

Support to Progress Reporting

To provide support to capacity building progress reporting, in the framework of the contribution of Albania to the European Commission’s annual progress report of 2012 and its update, a serial of workshops and text based individual coaching sessions (for ten chapters) were provided to the MEI staff during the period of March through September of 2012. The first meeting was held on the 28th of March 2012, on the premises of MEI, with the total participation of 20 MEI staff. The next meetings followed in June, July, and September of 2012. 

The PowerPoint presentations can be downloaded here: 

EU Law Weekly

EU Law Weekly is a tailor made bulletin covering the most recent developments in EU law, which provides information on new legislation, proposals for new legislation, soft law instruments, as well as case-law of the Court of Justice. This publication is supposed to provide all necessary information for enhancement of general knowledge of EU affairs, as well as crucial material for regular updates to the National Plan. 

The EU Law weekly bulletin can be accessed at http://smei3.mie.gov.al/en/pages/Outputs/EU Law Weekly/

Kick-off meeting of SMEI III Project, 30 January 2012

Implementation of the EU technical assistance project “Support to the EU Integration Process – Phase III (SMEI III)” started on the 30th of January 2012. The kick-off meeting was held in the “EUROPA” conference room in the Ministry of European Integration. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the SMEI III overall objective, purposes, expected project results and , and to identify the possible ways of coordination and cooperation with other partner institutions involved in the European Integration process. All the participants agreed that SMEI III was being launched at a very crucial and appropriate time for the European Integration agenda of Albania. A brief presentation of the SMEI III project, components, results and activities was made by the managing director of Fineurop Support, who is the leading partner of the consortium implementing this project. The SMEI III key experts made short presentations about their professional experiences. Institutional stakeholders presented themselves and their expectations. The presentation of the SMEI III Project can be accessed here Kick-off-meeting_SMEI-III-Project.pptx

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