The 13th Subcommittee meeting on Economic and Financial Issues and Statistics, under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Albania took place on 11 & 12 November 2021 via video-conference. Representatives from the European Commission (EC) discussed with relevant Albanian authorities the most recent developments in these areas. This sub-committee is a platform to regularly exchange views on recent developments in economic, monetary and financial affairs and current challenges. The discussion also followed up on alignment to EU legislation (acquis) under several topics.
The Albanian authorities provided information on their support to the economy related to the COVID-19 crisis and the reconstruction in the aftermath of the 2019 earthquake and presented their forecast of the strong amelioration of country’s economy in 2021 and 2022. The EC acknowledged the effective support provided to the Albanian economy so far and welcomed other positive development of the economy and the labour market in 2021, but also noted the increased public debt ratio. The EC suggested that going forward there is a need to reorient attention to the medium-term reforms supporting sustainable and inclusive growth. It noted that that the new medium-term fiscal targets imply a lower ambition for deficit and debt reduction than previously envisaged in a context of sizeable debt-related vulnerabilities and welcomed Albania’s commitment to increase the public revenue by completing and implementing the Medium-Term Revenue Strategy. The EC signalled that the frequent budget amendments, four in 2021, raise concerns about the credibility of the original budget plans. The Albanian authorities presented their recent financial sector policies and the EC welcomed the preservation of financial sector stability and the progress in the development of payment systems.
The EC welcomed Albania’s commitment to growth and noted its efforts regarding the public debt. It urged Albania to complete work necessary for the preparation of the Medium-Term Revenue Strategy. Developments in the fields of payment systems and free movement of capital were briefly discussed.
Concerning Public Internal Financial Control, the EC noted ongoing developments on managerial accountability and the potential of the new PIFC strategy to ensure effective internal control systems. The State Audit Institution’s efforts and its development strategy were noted; it’s recommendations have a high acceptance rate, but more efforts are needed on their implementation. The EC welcomed the efforts undertaken in the area of the protection of the Union’s financial interests and Albania’s cooperation with OLAF.
In the field of statistics, the EC welcomed the progress done by INSTAT and encouraged to increase the production and transmission of timely and high quality data to Eurostat. EC suggested INSTAT needs to make efficiency gains by modernizing the statistical production, by using more administrative sources and experimenting with new data sources. It was agreed that Albania would use 2021 as the reference date for the census that will take place in 2022. Progress has been made but improvements are still needed to achieve full compliance on national accounts and agriculture statistics.