Albanian trust in the European Union fell by four percentage points in 2021, from 75. per cent in 2020, according to the Trust in Governance poll conducted by the Institute of Democracy and Mediation.
The report was conducted in November 2021 throughout the country, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, after an intense parliamentary election campaign in April and failure to progress with EU negotiation talks in June.
Asides from a drop in confidence in the EU, trust in the EU-backed justice reform was also low, although it did increase slightly from the previous year. Just over a third of Albanians trust the initiative, which seeks to restructure some courts and vet all judges and prosecutors. Only 57 per cent thought it would bring positive development to the country.
Around half of all respondents believe politics influence the judiciary and prosecution.
Overall, Albanians were more likely to trust international organisations than their government, with NATO the most charged with 73 per cent, followed by the UN with just over 71 per cent. They preferred to put their trust in local institutions like religion (67 per cent), schools (57.1 per cent) and the army (54.6 per cent).
The least trusted local institutions were the president and political parties with around 25 per cent figures, followed by courts just surpassing 27 per cent, and the prosecution at 28.4 per cent.
Over half of citizens believe the government and municipalities are non-transparent, although this improved for a second year. This is blighted, however, by a staggering 83.1 per cent of the population believing that both petty and high corruption is widespread. The most corrupt institutions, according to respondents, were the judiciary, health service, public administration and police.
Most citizens also did not trust the judiciary to prosecute corruption amongst officials adequately. Furthermore, almost 30 per cent said they were asked to pay bribes at the local government level to receive services, while this number rose to nearly 35 per cent at a central government level.
Over 71% of respondents said they did not feel safe in everyday life and felt threatened by crime, health issues, injustice, unemployment and natural disasters. More than half said they were unhappy with the government’s handling of the pandemic, while similar figures said the same following the 2019 earthquake.
Albania opened accession negotiations with the EU in June 2022, therefore, it remains to be seen if this will positively impact citizens’ perception of the institution in this years survey.