Europeanisation of Spatial Planning in Albania
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Annual Review of Territorial Governance in Albania, I, 2018, Page 38-54
This article delves into the Europeanization of the Albanian planning system. Considering Albania’s position with regard to the European integration process and the impact that the negotiations for the adoption of the sectorial European Union (EU legislations, directives, and policies) may have on the territory, it is important for the country to start taking measures in terms of spatial planning. Spatial planning is not a formal competency of the EU and therefore will not be part of the negotiations. However, other sectorial policies already have and will continue to have impacts on the territory, both on the way Albania is governed and subsequently through territorial planning process and systems. The article looks at the Europeanization of the Albanian spatial planning1 system through three main dimensions: structures (legislation and institutions), instruments (territorial plans and their contents) and planning practice. Albania has made progress on the first two dimensions in terms of Europeanization from a “formal” viewpoint. However, because of its nature, planning practice is where most gaps exist. It is important to note that Europeanization goes beyond the formal adoption of EU legislation and policies; it is a wider and greater process of change impacting culture and ways of doing things. If Europeanization is to happen, a stronger focus needs to be made on reforming planning practice. This article concludes that so far, the process is reduced to paying lip service to the EU through wider use of European jargon, or reference to EU documents. The absence of appropriate contextualization of European policies, directives, and legal reforms is hindering the Europeanization of the planning processes in Albania. Europeanization should be understood as the modernization of the planning system in order to create an open, transparent and functional system, which supports good territorial governance. Thus, the improvement of planning practice is the key towards the Europeanization of the system.