Reform process

The government set as one of the main priorities of its program the undertaking of an administrative and territorial reform, with a view to increasing efficiency of local public services and strengthening the power of local government units.

The territorial reform process was developed through many stages such as: the establishment of the relevant structures; the analysis and studies on the situation of local government, consultation and approval of the technical criteria, drafting and approving five proposals on the new territorial division and the approval of the final version of the new map. These stages were followed by a nationwide and participatory consultation process including all stakeholders and Albanian citizens.

Establishing structures

The administrative and territorial reform implementation was assigned to two decision-making bodies: the Minister of State for Local Issues and the ad hoc Parliamentary Committee for the Administrative and Territorial Reform, established in January 2014.

In early October 2013, the Minister of State for Local Issues set up the group of national and international experts, as well as a technical secretariat for the reform. In addition, under the Prime Minister's Order, 12 regional working groups were established and there were appointed 12 regional technical coordinators.

The whole process and the involving structures were supported by the technical and financial assistance of the STAR project, funded by the US Government, Swedish Government, Swiss Government, Italian Government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as Council of Europe, OSCE, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Embassy of Austria, etc

Analysis and study phase

The administrative and territorial reform process relied on detailed analysis of the situation and studies carried out by a group of technical experts and it was encouraged by the organization of several study tours to countries that had implemented or were implementing territorial reforms. A series of conferences, seminars, and workshops were organized by the Minister of State for Local Issues, by organizations, institutions and associations to assist in the preparation of the proposal on the new administrative and territorial division.

On top of that, during this phase, a technical special mission (Peer Review) with eight experts from Member States of the Council of Europe was organized to assist in drafting the technical criteria.

The outcome of this phase are two detailed reports: “Report analysis of the situation of local government in Albania” explaining the need and the advantages of the administrative and territorial reorganization, and the “Report on the 'functional areas', that served as the basis for preparing the methodology of the new administrative and territorial division map.

Consultation and technical criteria approval

The proposal of the new administrative and territorial division relied on a set of technical criteria adopted by the ad hoc parliamentary committee on 28 April 2014. The technical criteria were the main basis for preparing the new administrative and territorial map.

The approval of the technical criteria by the ad hoc committee was preceded by a phase of in-depth analyses and studies conducted by a group of experts during the period November 2013 - March 2014.

Subsequent to their approval, in the period March - April 2014, these criteria went through a wide process of public consultations with representatives of local government associations, local elected officials, and stakeholders in every region of Albania (the first round of public consultations). 1,218 people took part in the process of consultations.

Consultation process and approval of the new territorial division

On May 16, 2014, the Minister of State for Local Issues, relying on the adopted criteria, presented a proposal based on five variants of the new administrative and territorial division map. A week later the ad hoc parliamentary committee approved the proposal of the map with the 39/47 local government units, based on the Constitution and the Organic Law 8652/2000. The proposal was discussed during public consultations with 1785 stakeholders and civil society and private sector representatives.

With regard to consultation with community members, the largest national survey was conducted. Around 16,000 respondents took part and 67% supported the territorial and administrative reform.

At the end of 2-month process of public consultations, the ad hoc parliamentary committee, in its meeting on July 17, 2014, approved the final version of the map of the new administrative and territorial division with 61 municipalities.

On July, 31 2014, the Parliament approved the law 115/2014 “On the territorial and administrative division of local government units in the Republic of Albania”.