The message from the President of the Albanian Water Regulatory Authority WRA, Mr Ndriçim Shani on the Western Balkans Memorandum of Cooperation.
We are gathered here today, at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Cooperation between some of the Economic Regulators of the Water Sector in the Western Balkans, respectively:
The Regulator of Albania (WRA);
The Regulator of Montenegro (REGAGEN)
The Regulator of Kosovo (ARRU), and
The Regulator of North Macedonia (ERC)
The cooperation between our regulators has not developed over a short period of time. Such cooperation goes back a long time ago, both through bilateral agreements such as those with the regulator of North Macedonia and Kosovo and through all events where we have participated by addressing various problems and topics of shared interest.
The idea of officially materializing it through a Memorandum of Cooperation came as an initiative and an organic need to grow further in order our regulators and the water sector can benefit from our individual experiences.
The border regulators in our region are characterized by shared similarities and common factors, such as mentality, level of development, model of governance, dimensions of service areas and population covered by the water and sewerage utilities, etc.
On the other hand, there are many differences that need to be carefully analyzed to highlight their positive and controversial aspects on the performance of the regulators or the sector as a whole. These aspects are worthy to be analyzed, to find features, differences and benefits. Analysing these differences and sharing among each other is key to improving our water sectors.
In this optic, our regulators can fulfil their mission of:
Improving the performance and financial sustainability of the sector, and as a guarantee that utilities in a monopoly environment to provide customers high-quality services and away from abuses with unjustified tariffs.
The variety of specifics of our four regulators includes different legal competencies in licensing and approval of tariffs, and different organizations of the water supply and sewerage sector against different levels of fragmentation.
We may mention here the case of Kosovo Water Supply Utility, which is quite aggregated with 7 regional utilities and the highly fragmented ones, such as Montenegro with 25 utilities, Albania with 58, and North Macedonia with 67.
In our countries, there are also currently regulatory instruments differing from each other in both content and procedures.
A comparison and analysis of these experiences would greatly serve for their further development and advancement, and lead to more efficient regulatory instruments.
It is a fact that our regulators have different ages and experiences, but a shared need to increase their capacity, and improve regulatory instruments. Furthermore, assistance on specific issues from more advanced experiences that have turned out to be effective in practice is a valuable asset to our regulatory activities.
Such need becomes even more evident for improving the water supply and sewerage sector in our countries to the desired level, and the envisaged status of EU candidate countries aspiring to join the European family.
This also leads to a need for significant tasks and commitments we have to meet in terms of very serious obligations deriving from the European directives on drinking water and wastewater, and so forth.
On the other hand, the water sector is still facing great challenges in the era of “climate change” that we are experiencing, as well as other important changes at the global level, which mean commitments and obligations of a higher level also for our regulators.
I also certainly need to recognize the presence in this event of the highest representatives of WAREG, the European association of water regulators of 25 European countries, including also our 4 regulators as very active participants.
Let me also emphasize the fact that in our efforts to fulfil our missions, this organization has played and continues to play a very important role in enhancing our capacity, creating great opportunities for professional development of our institutions, as well as, creating opportunities for real benefits from the successful and advanced experiences between our regulators and other institutions in the field that WAREG collaborates with.
This assistance has consisted and consists of various types of expertise and significant know-how offered by donors and various European institutions in helping our regulators meet their actual and future needs and objectives.
In this event, where I have the pleasure to humbly contribute on behalf of the Albanian Regulatory Authority, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our homologue regulators of Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and WAREG for their help and the very fruitful and positive spirit of cooperation. The memorandum we are signing today can further contribute to increased effectiveness in our work and improved performance of the water sector in our countries.
Thank you all again for your participation and contribution!
Have a look at the official press release on the signing of the Western Balkans Memorandum of Cooperation