Applications to join the European Union from West Balkan countries present a conundrum. Their small populations offer only partial response to the EU’s looming labor and skill shortages and their political systems need a wholesale overhaul. The prospect of EU accession is the most important factor driving reforms and frustration at delays in opening talks risks destabilization. In Albania’s case, the European Commission has backed launching accession talks. EU politicians still need to agree.
Confirmed for his second term as Albanian prime minister in 2017, Edi Rama has thrust his considerable energies into pressing Albania’s case for opening membership negotiations with the European Union. Even with opinion polls measuring popular support for his EU moves at around 80 percent and steady progress on wide-scale reforms, Rama still faces problems that hamper his ambitions to join the union.