The dragging of the start of the accession negotiations and the extension beyond the expectations of the EU integration process seem to have negatively affected the confidence of Albanians in the European Union. The results of a survey conducted by the Central Bank of Austria with citizens in the region of Southeast Europe show that the confidence of Albanians in the European Union has decreased by almost 13 percentage points within a year.
In 2019, only 51 percent of Albanians surveyed had confidence in the EU compared to 64% in 2018. Confidence in the EU has fluctuated in recent years, from a peak of 77 percent, which had reached in 2011, immediately after the abolition of visas.
Despite this decline, Albanians remain at the highest level of confidence in the EU compared to other Western Balkan countries. In the four non-member countries, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Albania where the survey was conducted, confidence in the European Union decreased significantly in 2019. In contrast, citizens in EU member states such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland had an increased confidence in the EU in 2019.
During the last decade 2009-2019 Albanians had the highest levels of trust in the EU even than the new member states, but the conditions for the opening of accesion negotiations seem to have lost the patience of Albanians.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has further alienated Balkan countries and Albanians from the European Union. Lack of solidarity to expand aid to Europe's poorest region and a lack of vaccine supplies could increase skepticism most recently.
After the fall of the dictatorship in 1992, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Albania was signed. In 1999, the EU proposed the new Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) for five Southeast European countries, including Albania. Since 1999 Albania has started to benefit from free trade Trade with the EU. The pending opening of the first intergovernmental conference with EU seems to annoy both citizens and politicians, particularly the PM, Edi Rama who doesn't spare criticism against bureaucracy in Brussels. He expected to have the launch of the talks before April 25 parliamentary elections but it seems hopes are lost seeing September as the possibility as said by Taulant Balla on March 8. In the meantime opposition pledges to start negotiations as soon as it allegedly wins the April 25 elections.
The confidence drop in EU as shown by the Austrian survey is in contrast to what Head of EU Delegation to Tirana Luigi Soreca claimed that confidence of Albanians is over 90 percent. /argumentum.al