Audit of EU Assistance Programs in Albania Critical about Performance

According to a 2016 report drafted by the European Court of Auditors (ECA), which was recently discussed the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament, many of the pre-accession assistance programs for the strengthening of the administrative capacity in Albania have been below par.

The projects, implemented by the European Commission in Albania between 2007–2013 include well-known projects such as the PAMECA and EURALIUS missions, as well as the construction of a new prison in Fier. The 15 audited projects represent a total investment of about €33.5 million.

The ECA concludes that the “Commission did not systematically apply strict conditions,” leading, for example, to a derailment of the Tirana Justice Palace project:

For seven out of the 15 projects audited, the Commission did not set strict conditions at the contracting stage and prior to effecting payments. This was not only the case for projects featuring complex objectives (such as strengthening anti-corruption measures), but also those aiming at relatively straightforward results, like the Tirana Justice Palace project […]. For this project, the necessary permits were not in place and alleged land ownership irregularities caused further difficulties. After negotiating with the Ministry of Justice for 4.5 years, the Commission cancelled the project and reallocated part of the funding to measures that were not related to the rule of law sector.

Furthermore, donor coordination in Albania between the EU and other donor has been completely “ineffective”:

We examined the donor activities of the Department for Development Programming, Financing and Foreign Aid. It did not have a clear organisational structure, was understaffed and did not run a donor database.

Finally, the anticorruption projects implemented in Albania failed to deliver any result:

The purpose of the ‘Project against corruption in Albania’ was to support the Albanian government in implementing its anti-corruption strategy (2007-2013). Not only did it fail to deliver on measurable targets, but its sustainability was also affected by the fact that the national anti-corruption coordinator was not independent and coordinated policies at national and local level without adequate budget or staff.