The Law 8756 was the first move towards the establishment of a more modern Civil Protection system faced with new and more complex challenges and operational requirements. The law encompasses the planning, prevention and preparedness system and defines first coordination among the different actors in civil emergency response operations. The law considers both disasters caused by the impact of natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods, landslides, avalanches, strong winds, forest fires and epidemics, and disasters due to human causes, including transportation accidents, urban fires, explosions, dam collapses, NBC releases, riots and war.
The Government is officially recognised as the first actor in civil emergencies. Its stated duties are to prevent, mitigate and restore any damage suffered by the population, animals, properties, cultural heritage and environment.
According to Article 5 of Law 8756, the Council of Ministers has the overall responsibility for civil emergency planning and response, while an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) coordinated by the Prime Minister has to be established by the Council of Ministers in case of countrywide emergency situations. The IMC gathers all the ministries involved within civil emergency operations under a unique coordination structure, aiming to speed up decision-making, especially in cases of international requests for intervention through international agencies.
The Ministry of Interior has overall responsibility for managing Civil Protection (Art. 8). Law 8756 introduced a technical directorate, namely the Department for Civil Emergency, Planning and Response (Sherbimi i Emergjencave Civile), part of the Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for the implementation and the adoption of the law at local level.
The Technical Consultative Commission of Experts, part of the directorate, advises on technical aspects of Civil Protection.
The Department for Civil Emergency Planning and Response can channel investment from public institutions into research in disaster prediction and prevention (Art. 11). Prefects are responsible for civil emergency management in each county (Art. 13), through Local Commissions (Art. 14) and Civil Emergency Services established in municipalities and communes (Art. 15 -17).
The adoption of Law 8576 has been followed by several decisions aimed at defining the tasks and roles of the different Civil Protection actors. Decision 644, February 2002, states that the Institute of Geosciences, and the Institute of Energy, Water and Environment of the Polytechnic University of Tirana, are the official monitoring bodies for the Department for Civil Emergency, Planning and Response.
The Department can involve such institutes for studies and data in the fields of planning, mitigation, early warning, preparedness and response. Decision 663, December 2002, defined the tasks of the Advisory Technical Commission, which was composed of permanent members, temporary members and invited members whose main goal was the preparation of the National Civil Emergency Plan.
In December 2004 the Albanian Council of Ministers adopted the National Civil Emergency Plan, the development of which was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department for International Development. The rationale of the plan was to stress the participation of civil society within the Civil Protection structures and define the strategy and the main targets of the Department for Civil Emergency, using EU good practice as a reference point and after consideration of wider regional developments in the Balkans. The plan defines the roles and duties of all relevant governmental institutions and civil organisations involved in Civil Protection for all phases of emergency management. A special emphasis is on Albania’s cooperation with other countries. The National Plan includes risk assessment studies carried out by all relevant institutions and organisations in Albania. It highlights the roles of all institutions and organisations involved in the different phases of emergency management.
Law 8756 has subsequently been modified by institutional and technical commissions, and the aim was to present to Parliament the draft of a new law. According to the new law the structure of the Department of Civil Emergency will be based on a more functional and versatile scheme that should simplify the cumbersome command and control chain of the previous, rigid and centralised, system. An integrated system of communication and early-warning for civil emergencies will be introduced as a unified 112 Operational Centre.
Moreover, the new Civil Protection structure will adopt a multi-level system, emphasizing the role of local levels, whose competencies and responsibilities will be enhanced and enlarged to include preventative activities and planning, under the responsibility of prefects.