Albania to create anti-corruption ministry in quest for EU accession

Albania to create anti-corruption ministry in quest for EU accession
Tirana hopes to revive stagnating efforts to fight corruption with new ministry after green light to start accession talks. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews January 12, 2024

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has announced plans to create a new Ministry for Public Administration and Anti-corruption.

Rama said that during Albania's ongoing negotiations for EU membership, it is essential for the government's anti-corruption strategies to align more effectively across executive institutions.

He has nominated Adea Pirdeni, currently deputy minister of justice, to become the first head of the new ministry. Pirdeni is also Albania’s former deputy chief negotiator with the EU. 

“In this new phase of the country's development and in the conditions when Albania is working on the chapters of negotiations for membership with the European Union, after having just successfully taken their first step, a new approach to public administration is required,” Rama wrote in a lengthy post on the X social network (formerly Twitter). 

“It is also advisable for the anti-corruption policies of the government to be better harmonised between the institutions of the executive, with the demands of the challenging process of negotiations with the EU for all the country's institutions, as well as with the civil society and entrepreneurship itself,” the prime minister added. 

Albania became an EU candidate country in 2014, and was given the go ahead to start accession negotiations in 2022.

Rama came to office over 10 years ago, pledging to fight corruption and bring the country closer to EU membership. Significant strides were taken during his first term in office, but more recently progress has flagged as shown by the country’s stagnating performance on Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). 

“Albania has been largely stagnant on the CPI,” said the latest report published in January 2023. “This hybrid regime’s progress in areas like judicial vetting and strengthening of the Specialised Structure for Anti-Corruption and Organised Crime has been overshadowed by weakened media independence and a lack of opportunities for meaningful engagement in decision-making by civil society. Smear campaigns and intimidation against journalists continue.” 

Among the concerns raised by Albania’s international partners, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are the controversial use of unsolicited public-private partnership (PPP) projects, which the IMF says are “very politicized in practice”. 

Despite its vocal criticism of Rama, the opposition is ineffective as a check on his government as the ruling Socialists' main rival, the Democratic Party, has been torn apart by infighting.