First of all, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr. Knut Fleckenstein, for his significant efforts in preparation of this accurate and balanced progress report on Albania. In light of this, in pre –accession negotiations we must clearly recognise Albania’s role for the regional stability as the country is the only one from Western Balkan states that is a full right NATO member. Albania has constructive and stable relations with its neighbours. Furthermore, its foreign policy is in full compliance with EU’s foreign and defence policy. Here, it is vital to note that Albania has even joined EU’s economic sanctions against Russia.
During the last year in domestic politics Albania has made some progress in meeting the political criteria for EU integration as a result of the efforts of the ruling center-left coalition. For the further course of reforms the government and the opposition should ensure implementation of the political debate in the parliament. Government must provide the opposition the possibility of exercising its right of democratic control, and the opposition should be constructively engaged in the democratic process.
As regards to the economic criteria, Albania has made some progress in the pursuit of a functioning market economy. However, it has to accelerate structural reforms in order to cope with the competitive pressure on the common EU market. In this regard, it is important to note that country’s economic growth is weak, the budget deficit is significant as a result of low competitiveness of the economy, unemployment is high and the grey sector is large.
The report clearly highlighs challenges that Albania is facing and some of the positive steps that the government has taken to deal with them. The government has made progress in the reform of justice system, engaging the Venice Commission to increase the independence, accountability and professionalism of the judiciary. Nevertheless, there is a need of a fundamental reform of the system, including constitutional changes and it must be noted in the report.
Over the past year the country has demonstrated political will to fight corruption, which remains a major problem that eroding the statehood. It has managed to improve the legal framework, political coordination and monitoring at central level. However, corruption is widespread in many areas, including the justice system and the executive power, which particularly is a serious problem.
There is a serious need of strengthening of the depoliticization of the state administration. In this regard, we must congratulate the government for its efforts and the progress that it has achieved in the reform of public administration, especially after the Civil Servant Law entered into force.
Of course, the government must continue with reforms, a particular delicate question remains the fight against the organized crime, which marks a positive trend in a number of areas; freedom of expression and citizen participation in democratic processes, media freedom and transparency in their funding and the creation of a functioning local government that meets the needs of citizens.
In conclusion, as а shadow rapporteur of the ALDE group, I want to draw your attention to the legal provisions contrary to the principle of gender equality, which must be removed. It is necessary to strengthen the capacity of competent institutions for child protection and fight against forced child labour. Also, there is a need for measures to guarantee and defend the political, social and economic rights of all ethnic communities and minorities, to promote the social inclusion of Roma minority and other vulnerable groups, as well as measures for the disabled and LGBT people, who continue to suffer from discrimination.
Thanks for your attention!
Тази публикация е достъпна и на следните езици: Bulgarian