Type of practice:
Migration governance is very important for Albania due to various migration related dynamics with around one third of the population currently residing abroad and a high propensity to migrate. The country is affected also by increasing mixed migration flows of migrants trying to transit to Western Europe but also as destination, mainly for labor migrants. Effective migration governance is crucial to addressing these complex challenges, as well as enhancing the impact of migration for the benefit of the social and economic development of the country.
The National Strategy on Migration (NSM) and its Action Plan (AP) 2019-2022 were developed with IOM support after several years of policy vacuum, following the completion of the previous NSM and AP in 2010 and the National Strategy on the Reintegration of Returning Albanian Citizens in 2015. It represents an important step towards the accomplishment of the national and international commitments of the Government of Albania (GoA) on migration and the achievement of the SDG Target 10.7, among others.
Key stakeholders included the Ministry of Interior, in charge for the development and implementation of the migration policy in Albania and several other line institutions engaged in migration governance and management. Civil society and academia were also consulted and involved in the process. IOM’s activities consisted of both policy and legislative support, through the engagement of a team experts assisting the Inter-institutional Working Group, composed of all ministries and other relevant entities for the development of an overarching whole-of-government policy framework for an effective migration governance system in Albania. Also, a training for government officials on migration governance and management was organized. Prior to that, a Migration Governance Indicators assessment was carried out, to set the baseline for the NSM development. A comprehensive legislation review was conducted for the “Law on Aliens” and the “Law on Emigration of Albanian Citizens for Employment Purposes”.
Recommendations were provided for both laws to be better aligned with the EU and international standards. A team of five experts, two international and three locals, were engaged through funding from IOMs’ Development Fund (IDF). The team’s expertise included policy development, migration law, as well as budgeting for the Action Plan. The development of the NSM took a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.
Benefit and Impact
The project strengthened the capacities of the officials across various line ministries in migration governance and management. The migration governance training targeted precisely those officials who were part of the working group tasked with drafting the policy and its corresponding action plan, and to monitoring their implementation.
Through its official endorsement, the Government demonstrated full ownership and commitment to implement it beyond the project lifetime. IOM continued to support the implementation of the NSM and AP through several projects, aimed at improving the coordination and monitoring mechanism of the strategy, labour migration, data as well as capacity building.
The project provided technical support for the analysis of the Law on Emigration of Albanian Citizens for Employment Purposes and the Law on Aliens. The recommendations provided during the review of the Law on Aliens served as the basis for developing the new law in 2020.
The strength of the strategy is that it is complemented with an action plan outlining clear responsibilities for different government institutions, and an agreed budget, timetable and monitoring system strongly indicating government commitment to implementation.
The impact of the NSM and AP was noticeable immediately upon the start of implementation, in line with the prioritization of the AP measures (by year) as well as by the rate of implementation of the measures. To date, around 61.5 per cent of the AP measures have been fully implemented or under implementation.
The NSM and AP, besides setting a clear vision of the government on migration governance and management, created a solid reference framework for the donor, development partners and other entities to better channel their contribution to improving migration governance in the country.
Finding the right experts was key to the success of the project. The engaged experts had a high degree of expertise and ensured complementarity of expertise across various areas (international, local, human rights, knowledge of the Government, budget, legal). This was critical for the success of the project as it contributed to recovering the delays and ensuring the knowledge transfer, which was necessary in the strategy development and implementation.
Early ‘buy in’ and ownership from the GoA meant that when the project was ready to begin it could do so quickly having already secured the necessary commitment from the relevant government entities across different levels as needed.
More proactive consultations with specific target groups and especially different categories of migrants, including those currently in migration, returned migrants, migrants transiting in Albania due to mixed migration flows and foreign migrants residing in Albania for several purposes such as labour or family reunification would have been beneficial. Involvement of civil society actors did take place, however, should the implementation time have allowed for a broader consultation process in pursuing a whole of society approach would have been also advantageous.
The above lessons learned from the practice were taken into account in the implementation of the follow-up projects in support of the NSM and AP.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
• Such initiatives should not include only the formulation of a national migration policy, but the development should be preceded by gap analysis and include reviews of the relevant migration legal framework in the context of international instruments and EU Acquis.
• Include capacity building and training activities for the development process, to ensure the same level of knowledge and understanding among all stakeholders and encourage strategic thinking.
• Analyzing and mainstreaming gender throughout the pillars of the strategy and its action plan is recommended in order to better understand how migration policies and practices affect men and women differently (and those who identify as other) and consider including provisions to address these differences.
• The sustainability of the strategy and its successful implementation should be kept in mind. Stakeholders play a crucial role on the sustainability, ensured by incorporating the AP measures to institutional plans and budgets.
• Setting up monitoring and reporting mechanisms, aligned with national reviews of the GCM and SDG’s would streamline reporting and ensure awareness of the contribution to global objectives and goals.
Combining the strategy development process with the assessment of the Migration Governance Indicators contributed to building a solid baseline, following the gaps created by extended policy vacuum. The first National Strategy on Migration 2005-2010 was not followed by another cross-sectoral policy on migration governance. Mainstreaming migration to sector strategies during the period 2010-2017 did not produce the expected output for an improved migration governance in the country.
The impact of the practice is sustained throughout the implementation of the NSM and AP. It can be replicated and scaled up for the development of the new strategy on migration from 2023 onwards, which can be fully rooted in the GCM.
It was followed by a number of related initiatives that have assured its sustainability despite the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic in its implementation such as:
• In collaboration with National Institute of Statistics, a household migration survey was conducted by IOM Albania to collect data and evidence for migration policy development.
• A comprehensive training on migration governance for government officials engaged in the NSM and AP implementation was developed and delivered, including a training-of-trainers approach, to increase sustainability.
• Support for the coordination and monitoring mechanism of the NSM and AP was provided by IOM. The project also supported the mid-term review of the NSM and AP.
• Assessing and strengthening the labour migration and ethical recruitment framework in Albania, through specific activities focusing on data collection and analysis, combined with capacity building.
The periodic reports on the implementation of the NSM and AP, as well as the mid-term review, did not show any significant impact due to COVID-19, apart from some activities that had to be adapted to online mode, however, without impacting the achievability.