1. Albania and regional integration
If we refer to the work of the Ministry of Integration during March, it has consisted of intensive meetings in the framework of visits from different European officials in our country or other events attended by the Minister, Mrs. Gjosha. Its worth mentioning the Conference of Parliamentary Committees of the Western Balkans held on 13 March, led by our country in order to share the experience of integration and as an encouragement for deeper cooperation between the countries of the region. As a representative of the Ministry of Integration, Mrs. Gjosha said, “The EU has always had in its foundation the unification of countries and never their segregation. Today we can clearly see that the Western Balkan countries do not impoverish Europe, but enrich it “and also that ” Albania has had the candidate status only for few months now and it is determined to avoid wasting time. Integration remains our golden opportunity. Albanians today support EU membership, are set to follow the path of reform. ”
Something which remains a mystery after a search about the reporting on the event in question is whether there have been other representatives of the region in this meeting? This fact is impossible to be inferred both from the media coverage, and also from the Official Website of the Ministry, which has published only speeches of officials participating in our country. As a result, we fail to understand the attitude of neighboring countries about such an initiative, their vision or concrete projects for which there has been talks for years at such conferences, but which fail to produce common policies. Was the conference chaired by Albania successful or was a conference organized for the regional countries by Albania, where Albania invited Albania and then spoke for herself?
The truth is that the Balkans need more joint conferences, to be held as an outcome of a regional initiative and take it to another level, exploring the most suitable areas for cooperation and producing specific policies to substantialize this cooperation. All this to emphasize that the final destination of Albania may be the European Union, but the only “train” that leads her there is that of regional integration and has settled last time, that joint initiatives are taken seriously and not to making common statements for the neighborhood.
Among other things, March has been even more succinct in meetings and their intensive development is an aspect to congratulate. As a candidate country, Albania should go into a negotiation process, which for the ordinary listener, often times, looks like the same statements being repeated endlessly without revealing anything new and often the citizen feels like he’s being played . For policy makers these statements have special importance because they show progress (or not) on the integration and if the public would pay attention, it would come to realize that the language of the EU has become “sharper” and more “demanding”, at a time that if we refer to the findings of newsletter EuroSpeak, produced by the Europian Movement in Albania. The March report of the European Parliament on the Western Balkan countries suggests that progress is conditioned by the economic crisis, corruption and the need to guarantee freedom of the media.
All European officials, with whom Ms. Gjoshe met, continue to say the promised reforms (or the famous 5 priority) must now go forward and be tested in practice and it would be more preferable if the Minister of Integration during these meetings had not only plans and projects, but future plans or projects implemented in half of a track. Statements in the media constantly finds references to the fact that Mrs. Gjosha meetings reported on the reforms, whereas no institutional report has been made known to the public. It is not common then that MEP Macovei, as president of the European Parliament stated that “the words, documents, strategies are not enough. They are necessary, but should be implemented. ”
- Acquis Communitaire – Quo Vadis ?!
EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Mr. Johannes Hahn in his visit of March 20 unless made it clear, as his colleagues before him, that in the case of Albania in fact there is no external factor inhibiting the membership and the only concern it is related to the implementation of reforms and also an issue raised as a concern by APPA in the February report, such as the importance of the approximation of legislation. Mr. Hahn said: “It is also more important to move forward with the legislation being implemented, as the process of integration for any country aspiring to become part of the European Union has not only to deal with the adaptation of the legislation of a country with EU, but its implementation in practice “. One issue rightly raised was that neither the Ministry of Integration or Directorate of Laws in the European Union, nor the Integration Committee, with the main task to monitor the process of the acquis together, have yet to publish any report on how the approximation process has gone so far, not only in quantitative terms in the sense of how many laws have we managed to adapt , but also in their quality or even the issues encountered. Questions naturally arise: does the Ministry of Integration have a definite plan for implementing the acquis communitaire for a limited period in time and how is this plan going? In what ways will it be ensured both the adjusting of the legislation and the implementation of new articles? Again we begin to ask, how is applicability measured? For the ensuring of the transparency is concerned above all with the exposure of plans, projects, strategies, monitoring, implementing, measuring, criteria, factors point, and so.
Until now, the only information the Ministry of Integration provides for the public is one that follows:
“The process of approximation of legislation, is generally to be understood as follows:
- In the broad legal sense means first transposing the provisions of EU legislation into national law, second, the practical application of these provisions of the legislation by national competent public authorities and thirdly, ensuring the practical implementation of this legislation by a court or other enforcement and legal agencies.
- In practical terms, it is an indicator of a country’s progress towards European integration and alignment is the quantity and quality of national laws that transpose the provisions of EU legislation, as well as evidence for their effective implementation in practice. “
Membership in the European Union will not depend on the fulfillment of simple bureaucratic standards or compilation of reports on paper, but the changes that are expected to bring. The work of the Ministry of European Integration should not consist merely in the fulfillment of “obligations” on the adoption of legislation, but more needs to be done especially concerning the monitoring and the implementation of national laws to meet EU standards. It’s worth mentioning and reiterating that the EU will not reward nor the will of governments, nor the minimal efforts or the bureaucratic work. Albania is already in a magnifying glass and the only progress that will be recognized is that progress that will be seen.
In the same spirit we should mention this month the 3 meetings held in the Integration Commission, which although have to say that the general level of the debate seems to have a significant improvement from the previous month, especially if we refer to the discussion on the review of the draft law “On the role of Parliament in the process of integration of the Republic of Albania in the European Union”, many questions still remain. During this session, if we refer to the records, it is repeated that this is one of the five priorities set by the European Commission to increase the involvement of political actors in the integration process, in an attempt to increase quality of the policies and decision making through the establishment of the National Integration Council. What we debatable is that although the passage of laws in commissions follows a certain procedure, which includes some actors, among them the Parliament, it was noted that most of the work was done outside the doors of these meetings. Consequently, it is difficult to understand the quality of law produced compared to the previous one, have there been difficulties in adapting to EU law, are there laws or specific provisions which are inapplicable in our countries situation and what it is done in such cases? Moreover, always based in the record, it is clear that the discussion of laws continues to be more the subject of negotiations between the parties in the majority and the opposition, which fails to produce the best law possible, fruit of a professional work, but instead it is the outcome of partisan clashes.
In the above mentioned record, as in many cases, it is continuously noted the contribution of civil society, leaving out which organizations of the civil society or in what way they have contributed and lastly, why these actors are not present to report the opposite commission. We can conclude that the only actors not mentioned in this process are the citizens themselves, which can participate indirectly in the moment they gain access to the entire legislative process and this debate is exposed to his criticism. We would invite the Ministry of Integration to dedicate the same commitment dedicated to the negotiations and for which we have congratulated her, to its citizens.
3.The triangle Macovei – the government- opposition
The most important event since the granting of candidate status, has been meeting between representatives of the Albanian Parliament with those of the European Parliament held between 16-17 March. Meetings have seen clashes between the opposition and MEP Macovei, who co-hosted the meeting with Socialist deputy Mr. Taulant Balla, but the draft resolution for the start of the negotiations for accession ended with a simple joint statement, but not the usual recommendation that the European Parliament. The failure of this meeting was due to the conditioning by the opposition that one of the measures to be included in the decriminalization of the Parliament, was mentioning the Head of Parliament as a defendant to a crime of attempted murder, a proposal categorically laid down by European Commissioners since the issue is in investigation by the Prosecution. Also the format of the meeting itself faced outright rejection of the opposition, which according to them it had always been between Albanian and European parliamentarians, while this meeting had allowed a Minister to talk about the progress of reforms and the opposition was allowed only question, violating the right to voice their concerns.
At the close of the string of meetings within the MSA we faced two positions, that of Ms. Gjoshe and Mrs.. Macovei and her colleagues in the EP. In an interview on 25 March for “Evening Magazine TV” on Top Channel in the framework of the visit of the Commissioner Ms Hahn and European Parliament. Gjoshe expressed very satisfied with the presentation as a “united front” between the government and the opposition facing the EU and we quote “This time we had the contribution made by the Commissioner Mr.Hahn, Prime Minister Rama, who co-directed the format. Later the main contribution was given by me and Mrs. Bregu, as chairman of the Committee of European Integration. I can say that it was extremely successful for it was something that has not happened before, the dialogue between the majority and the opposition was really admirable. Not that it was something different, because it talks about 5 priorities, the achievements Albania has made and what should be taken further. But for us it was a big achievement, because the dialogue was received extremely well from the majority, as well as from the European Komission. ”
Meanwhile, EuroParliamentarian,Ms. Macovei in an interview given to ABC News says it is under the impression that Albanian citizens has been fed up with scandals in Parliament or other instances alike, and that the party system is dominated by one person. This proves the fact, according to her, that many opposition deputies agreed with the draft amendments to the resolution, but later will express what they could not be admitted that it had orders.
So, the dialogue between the majority and the opposition in this case was not “admirable” and should be subject to greater efforts on choreographing their positions before such meetings occur. If we must hope for the future success of the negotiations, one of the problems to be solved is that should stand as a united front by representing the Albanian people.
- The Minister or the Ministry ???
The head of the Ministry of Integration, Mrs. Gjosha, attended the presentation of the conclusions of a survey conducted Soros Foundation at the national level “The Perspective of Accession in the European Union, perceptions and realities”, from which it separated the general support in favor of membership ranges anywhere to 87% . What we Mrs. Gjosha addressed by the survey in question was especially the part of the Albanian perception that the EU accession will improve everything and Albania will change as if by magic, will increase its wellbeing, employment, meritocracy, will improve education, health, etc. .etj., to which she replied: “Spurred by this figure, I’d like to reiterate that this perception needs to change, because we will be part of the European Union only based on the principle of merit and only when we meet obligations EU membership is not a gift that will be presented to our country, it is a struggle and a challenge to be overcome altogether “.
What Mrs. Gjoshe addresses is true, but how can we change the idea of the Albanian citizens about the EU, which according to the aforementioned survey enjoys a 96% of a confidence vote among Albanians, who expect the latter to wash her, to clean her, to make her cultured and to make her rich, just like the national political rhetoric, which focus extensively on the benefits that integration will bring our country. Regarding the liabilities instead, they are widely trumpeted as a job that belongs only to the government to deal with and they have long given the idea that it is also possible to escape them.
If the Ministry of Integration requires citizens to be aware of the significance of EU membership, it must begin to think of leading by example. The Ministry of Integration has a separate administration, not only the head of th institutions and we do not doubt that it works every day for the cause of integration. What is unclear is why , following the publication of the Integration Strategy 2014-2020, the Albanian public is still not informed periodically with the concrete work of this ministry’s departments, other then a general description of the internal organization of the Ministry (being that in the same survey concluded that most of the citizens searching information about the EU and integration would go directly to the official website of government). Would it not be understandable and expected that the Ministry of European Integration to become a model for other ministries, making transparent its work, but also the report as a modus operandi. As a consequence, not only the public would be much more informed about the work of the Ministry, but also he would be informed about the costs of the process.