News 04 Mar 13

EU Criticises Albania Referendum Proposal

EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele condemned the ruling majority's decision to hold a referendum on three bills required for Albania’s EU candidate status bid.

Besar Likmeta
EU enlargement commisioner Stefan Fuele

“I have been repeatedly stressing that the laws, and in particular the rules of procedures, need to be approved through consensus between the opposition and government and therefore it is difficult to understand this decision that goes against the spirit of inclusiveness,” Fuele said in a statement on Saturday.

“Opting for a referendum in this case is not the way how cross-party consensus is built,” he added.  

Albania obtained a conditional recommendation from the European Commission for its EU candidate status bid in October last year, which required the approval of two draft laws and the parliamentary rules of procedure.

However, approval of the three bills, which requires a qualified majority in parliament, has remained hostage to a row between the opposition and the ruling majority dating back to the 2011 local elections.

Brussels has repeatedly underlined that Albania’s EU-related reform process needs to be sustainable, self-motivated and consensus-driven.

Fuele's statement comes at a tense time ahead of parliamentary elections in June.

Although the elections are still months away, the ruling Democrats led by Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the opposition Socialists under Edi Rama are already at odds over the way the polls will be conducted.  

The Central Electoral Commission remains divided on political lines and questions have been raised about whether it will be able to oversee a free and fair vote.

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