Enlargement Instruments and Domestic Constraints: Public Administration Reform in Post-Communist Albania

January 2009
Südost-Europa;2009, Vol. 57 Issue 1, p70
Academic Journal
The process of EU enlargement involves conditioning, assisting, monitoring and checking a candidate country's capacity to be an EU member. Those instruments have been largely credited to impact institutional change in the candidate countries in Central and Eastern Europe. However, while the EU proved to be successful in the first wave of enlargement, its effects in "borderline" cases that lack the will and the capacity to pursue the required reforms are much less known and thus pose a real challenge to the EU enlargement strategy. These cases become all the more important as the EU prepares to extend to the Western Balkans, mostly cases facing daunting domestic conditions. This paper aims to trace the effectiveness of EU instruments in problematic domestic environments, focusing on the case of public administration reform in Albania. Here, the limits of EU conditionality become apparent, as Albania lacks the necessary domestic consensus and institutional capacities to conduct the required reforms. Moreover, both the EU's broad demands on administrative reform and the vague association between its assessment procedures and the actual advancement of its relations with the country have failed to strenghten the incentives for the Albanian actors to give up the high spoils of controlling the state.


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