European Commission Requests Amendation of National Theater Law

In a letter addressed to General Secretary of the Council of Minister Engjëll Agaçi, Head of the EU Enlargement Directorate for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina Michela Matuella has requested that the Albanian government change the proposed special law for the National Theater, and remove the pre-determined private company, Fusha shpk, from the legal proposal.

[T]he Commission services welcome the commitment of the Albanian authorities to amend the Special Law with a view of introducing an open call for the implementation of the National Theatre development project, whereby any private party could submit a proposal for the project. At the same time, the Commission services would like to emphasise the importance of defining clear, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria for the selection of the successful bidder in implementing the Special Law.

Recently, the Socialist majority proposed to indefinitely postpone a discussion of President Ilir Meta’s decree to reject the Special Law.

In the same letter, the European Commission further states it “does not have competence to assess the compliance of the Special Law with the existing Albanian legal framework.” This is at least ironic, as because of the European Commission-sponsored justice reform, the country is already several months without Constitutional Court, who would usually have treated this issue.

Besides violating the EU acquis communautaire as regards fair and equal competition practices, the Special Law as proposed by the Rama government infringed on the constitutional rights of the Tirana Municipality, bypassed the law on public consultation, and would practically hand over for free highly coveted public lands in the middle of the capital to an oligarch.

The Special Law also entailed the destruction of the current National Theater, a cultural monument, and its reconstruction by Bjarke Ingels Group, a Danish architecture firm known for its so-called “socially responsible” projects.