Profile of Mr Ledio Allkja POLIS University

Ledio Allkja

I am a PhD candidate at TU Vienna. I have conducted my bachelor at the University of West of England, in Bristol, on Property Development and Planning, and continued after at Radboud University Nijmegen on MSc European Spatial and Environmental Planning. Once graduated moved back to Albania, working as an assistant lecturer and researcher at POLIS University. I have also worked from 2014 to 2016, at the Ministry of Urban Development, as the Head of the Sector for Regional and Local Planning, while maintaining a part-time position as junior lecturer.

General research interests

My research interests are focused on regional planning, planning system and planning culture.

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Unraveling the complexity of Europeanization of Spatial Planning Systems, the case of Albania

PhD Abstract

Europeanization of Spatial planning systems has been a prominent research topic in the European Union over the last two decades. Several researchers, including ESPON projects, have been focused on the analysis of the Europeanization of Spatial Planning and Territorial Governance. Nevertheless, when comparing the research conducted at the European level or in member-states to that compared in the Western Balkan and for the Europeanization of planning systems in the Western Balkans there is a clear gap. Research in this region regarding the topic of Europeanization of planning systems has started only during the last decade and it is limited.This region is on the verge of European Integration, with most countries having opened or being close to opening negotiations for joining the EU. Thus, processes of Europeanization are expected to increase and manifest. Albania, being close to the opening of negotiations and with the changes occurring in the planning system over the last years becomes an interesting case study in the prospect of Europeanization.Besides the intensification of European Integration, what makes this research even more interesting is that Spatial planning systems, in the Western Balkans, and specifically in Albania, have undergone important and drastic changes over the last decade. Most countries, have undertaken changes in the planning system shifting from an urban regulatory oriented approach to a more comprehensive and integrated approach, typical of the North-West European countries. Hence, analyzing these changes, in the prospect of Europeanization, is important from a practical as well as a theoretical point of view.The aim of this research is to analyze the way the Spatial Planning system in Albania is changing in light of Europeanization processes. The Europeanization of the planning system in Albania is analyzed through two main dimensions of Europeanization. ‘Hard’ influence in terms of changes in structures, legislation and direct impact in the territory. ‘Soft’ influence in terms of policy discourse change, planning practice and learning. The second aspect is important, as on the one side Europeanization is also a general socio-cultural change manifesting European values and models. While on the other side, planning is a deeply rooted in the local culture, thus the changes occurring in light of Europeanization are socially constructed in the domestic milieu. The research uses a qualitative methodology, based on semi-structured interviews and focus groups in order to understand the processes as they are occurring as well as the meaning that those involved in planning in Albania give to the Europeanization processes.Through the analysis, it can be understood that in Albania, there is a general change trying to converge and mimic what the way that spatial planning systems in some of the EU member states that have a comprehensive and integrated approach in planning look like. This is evident in terms of the form of planning instruments, the expanding scope of planning and the creation of a hierarchical system of institutions. Additionally, EU policy concepts and discourses have penetrated the national level planning policies. However, these changes have occurred mostly from the bottom up. Meanwhile, when it comes to implementation and contextualization in the domestic milieu, because of lack of capacities and path dependency there are several challenges that hinder the transfer of knowledge. Considering that once negotiations are opened, the cooperation in terms of policy transfer and legal transposition will increase, the research has highlighted in the end a list of recommendations, in the form of a policy guideline that can be applied by the EU and Albanian authorities.