Sending a message: the EU enlargement

After the 2007 accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the European Union appears to be more demanding in what its prospective members need to do prior to joining the club.  The reason for this change was noted by The Economist earlier in the year:

Now that they’re in the club, new European Union members are failing to deliver on the promises they made to fight corruption.

Once past the entrance door, incentives to reform tend to drop sharply.  So in addition to issuing evaluation reports on prospective members, the EU is even willing to challenge how these are interpreted spinned by local politicians.  Let’s take Albania as an example (via Hurriyet):

Two days after the EU said in a report that Albania had made limited advances, the EU ambassadors also said holding free and fair general elections in 2009 would be vital for Albania’s wish to move toward joining the 27-member bloc.  “Corruption is described as a particularly serious problem for Albania. Fighting corruption, especially in the judiciary but also elsewhere, remains a key European Partnership issue,” the EU envoys said in a statement issued by the French embassy…

The envoys issued their statement after the government said the report was full of praise for its work, while the opposition saw it as the worst ever assessment from Brussels.  Prime Minister Sali Berisha was greeted in rural Albania on Thursday by musicians in traditional costume who sang that “corruption was breathing its last” thanks to his efforts.

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