Friday, September 30, 2011

Albanian EU Progress Hindered by Lack of Consensus

Albania's Democratic Party and Socialist Party continue to be at loggerheads stifling Albania's opportunity to join the EU. Here's BIRN's latest take on that emotionally exhausting standoff in the Albanian Parliament.


Albanian EU Progress Hindered by Lack of Consensus

The inability of political leaders to reach consensus on key reforms within in Albania is delaying the country’s progress towards European Union candidacy, a report published by the Open Society Foundation in Albania, OSFA, has shown.

Besar Likmeta

Adela Halo, coordinator of the good governance and integration programme at OSFA and a co-author of the report, told Balkan Insight that political consensus was a key part of passing reforms in Albania.

“What we have that a good part of the measures addressed as a priority by the European Commission, require political consensus,”
she said.

OFSA’s report, which analyzed progress in implementation of measures planned by the Albanian government in the Action Plan Addressing the Recommendations of the EC Opinion, found that last year the pace of reforms slowed down considerably compared to the previous year.

Out of 102 planned measures for implementation in 2011, only 20 per cent were implemented, compared to 57 per cent in 2010, while 76 of the measures are partially implemented and work has not even started on four per cent of them.

Within the implemented measures, 80 per cent are in the fight against corruption and organised crime. No measures have been fully implemented in the areas of the functioning of the parliament, the appointment of the Ombudsman and Constitutional and High Court judges, and only 5 per cent of the overall implemented measures come from the priority on justice reform.

Albania first applied for EU candidacy status in April 2009, but its bid was turned down by the European Commission last October, because not enough progress had been made in political dialogue, the fight against organized crime or against corruption.

Last year, the commission issued 12 recommendations on policy areas, which needed to be addressed with reforms, in order for Tirana to obtain the EU candidate status and open the door for a possible date for negotiations.

However, the Socialists and the Democrats, Albania’s main political parties, have been at loggerheads with each other ever since the 2009 disputed parliamentary elections. For the better part of 2010 the Socialist opposition boycotted parliament or participated only formally, protesting alleged irregularities in the poll, while calling for a parliamentary investigation of the alleged fraud. The year long-political crisis, culminated in the January 21, 2011 anti-government demonstration that left four protestors dead and dozens wounded.

The Socialist opposition boycotted parliament again after the May 8 local elections, in protest against what it alleged were fresh irregularities in the race for the post of Tirana mayor. The boycott worsened the political environment, as it meant that bills requiring a two-thirds majority in parliament to become enshrined into law could not be passed. This brought reform in the country to a virtual standstill.


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