During his visit yesterday to Albania, EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn appeared at the Palace of Congresses flanked by Prime Minister Edi Rama and outgoing EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin underneath large banners announcing the “preparatory phase” of the “Albania–EU membership negotiations.”
In reality, membership negotiations have not been opened this year because the Rama government failed to meet any of the 5 key criteria set by the European Parliament and European Council. The country is currently still as much “preparing” as in 2013, when Rama came to power.
In fact, the European Council has set even stricter criteria, including a full electoral reform before the 2019 municipal elections following the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR, which have been lingering in the government’s drawers for years. This was also emphasized by Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn during his statement at the Palace of Congresses yesterday.
In April, the Helsinki Committee already sounded the alarm about the fact that the mandate of the bipartisan Special Parliamentary Commission on Electoral Reform had ended without any concrete results.
In spite of the government propaganda, no concrete steps toward electoral reform have been taken.