Statement by the Council of Albanian Ambassadors on the Economic&Investment Plan and the Progress Report 2020 of the EU Commission on Western Balkans

The Council of Albanian Ambassadors  warmly welcomes the endorsement on 6 October 2020 of the comprehensive Plan on Economic Recovery and Investments 2021 – 2027 and the Progress Report 2020 on Western Balkans by the EU Commission.

It should be emphasized that this is not simply a matter of humanitarian and development aids. Although, following the previous projects in these areas, in the International Donor’s Conference in Brussels in February,  the EU Commission collected 1,15 Billion Euro for the avoidance of the effects of the Earthquake of 26 November 2019. Then, in May,  it delivered 3,3 Billion Euro for the countries of the Region in the context of the Pandemic COVID – 19.

As the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Mr. Oliver Varhelyi underlined in his official encounters in Tirana on 7 October, this  is  a major all-inclusive Project amounting to 9 Billion Euro. Its 10 vital components range from economic recovery to investment promotion, employment growth, fostering know – how, vigorously supporting youth, so that they would see themselves living in their own countries in the future, a much more efficient connection and inter – action among the region’s states and, finally the acceleration of the economic convergence with the EU.

CAA notices with satisfaction that these essential elements are not conceived as an aim in itself, but to the full-fledged  benefit of  political, cultural and social integration of the region to the EU.

To this end, the Economic and Investment Plan has been designed in large – scale projects in  infrastructure, transport, energy, trade and other areas with an far – reaching « geography »: South – North, East – West, the Coastline areas and others, accompanied with the construction of modern inter – regional roads, highways, railways, ports, airports and other facilities.

Apart from the above-mentioned, given their relevance and urgency, the said Plan does also include two defining agendas for the future of the countries in the region – the  transition to digital and to Green Economy; the later will be submitted to the EU – Western Balkan Special Summit due to be held in Sofia in early November. Both these agendas represent new qualitative components, which would guarantee the success and effectiveness  of the projects, programs and processes related to economic growth and investments; besides, they would provide adequate solutions to serious challenges, such as economic competition, climate changes, global warming, natural calamities and others.

CAA is pleased to note that the Economic and Investment Plan confirms and consolidates the absolute priority that the EU attaches to Western Balkans, as an integral part and follow up of the next two major moments during this year:

The New Strategy designed to invigorate the EU Enlargement process to our region as adopted in early February; and secondly, the decision by the EU Council on 25 March on the opening of the EU Accession talks with Albania ( with the 15 conditions) and North Macedonia.

CAA calls on the Government and the implementing agencies to make the proper assessment of this new historic momentum and to start working on applying these projects. This does urgently require the establishment where they are missing and the expansion of the technical and administrative capacities, a growing public transparency, avoidance of informality, corruption and other negative occurrences.

The Council of Albanian Ambassadors notes with concern that these weaknesses, defects and delays are also mentioned in the Progress Report 2020, which should be analyzed and done away with as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, despite the cautious diplomatic language, the said Report does not mention « Albania is complying with the conditions » but only that «  Albania is near this compliance » regarding the opening of the negotiations  this year. Therefore, the remaining period until December, when the First Inter- Governmental Conference could be summoned  should be used to speed up and finish the relevant procedures for setting up the High and Constitutional Court and completing the Electoral Reform, under the relevant terms and conditions decided by the EU Council.

CAA expresses its confidence that the Progress Report 2020 and, specifically,  the Economic and Investment Plan of the EU Commission will serve to all political actors and factors in Albania to step up the efforts, so that the upcoming EU Summit would be able to call the said Conference in December, which would also mark the opening of the EU Membership talks.

Actually, the hurdles to this process do not lie in the «  domestic dynamics or electoral needs » of any single country in the EU ; instead, they relate only to internal confrontations, crises and problems in Albania. Accordingly, the merit and the responsibility for the achievement of this strategic goal is and will fall upon the Albanian political establishment, and notably to the parliamentary majority and its government.

Finally, the CAA takes this opportunity to thank once again and salute  the EU Commission and all Member States without exception for their multi-faceted assistance and support, so that our region and Albania would get much closer to the EU.

Tirana, 8 October 2020

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