The Delegation of the European Union to Albania is again one of the main partners of the Week of Integrity. And this year, the EU Delegation will be joined in organising events by a number of our projects.
I am especially happy that, for the first time, several of the municipalities will be participating through their EU integration units. As you know, those have been set up with our support to bring the EU closer to Albanian citizens.
This Week of Integrity is dedicated to five main themes – welfare, education, human rights, industry and technology – which are at the heart of Albania’s EU integration process.
Transparency, integrity, and accountability are all essential prerequisites for a democracy to be based on the rule of law. They are essential to good governance and to legitimate and credible policy-making.
Integrity is a very simple concept. It is about being honest, it is about showing adherence to strong morals and it is about promoting accountability.
Our EU institutions themselves have made considerable efforts in becoming more open and accountable. For this purpose, the EU has adopted legislative instruments to comply with the highest possible standards of transparency, accountability and integrity and specifically to prevent corruption.
We do relentlessly push this agenda in Albania. In the last 7 years, the EU has supported the country with 20 million EURO to fight corruption and economic crimes, to support the social reuse of confiscated assets and to support civil society organisations.
It is reassuring to see that some progress has been made recently in improving integrity and transparency. The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament, the obligation to declare assets and conflicts of interest, and the electronic registers for requests to access information are good steps forward.
But there is not a single magic measure that can to uproot corruption and establish a true culture of integrity without effective and concrete follow up. It is now crucial for the public administrations to adopt integrity plans, to assess the level of vulnerability of an organisation, and its exposure to unethical and corruption practices, as well as to help institutions to assess corruption risks and manage them efficiently.
Few weeks ago the Ministry of Justice has made public its Integrity Plan developed with EU assistance. 16 municipalities have also drafted their own plans, some of them will be presented this week. And through our PAMECA project, we have assisted the Ministry of Interior to draft the Integrity Plan for the Albanian State Police.
These are all very good steps in the right direction. But as said what it matters now is to show the necessary political will to move from the Plans to the Actions.
In all this work, civil society and media play a crucial role in preventing corruption, reporting unlawful situations, monitoring public services and raising public awareness.
Civil society organisations must be integral part of a sustainable and long-term solution and the role of youth and universities is particularly crucial in this endeavour.
I am very much attached to the goal to empowering young people to be able to participate in the public life of the country and give their input in the shaping of the policies.
Equally crucial is having an environment where investigative journalism is promoted – and as I announced last week, this is an area where the EU is bringing strong additional support this year.
To conclude, I wish all of you fruitful discussions and debates during this Week of Integrity. You will also see my colleagues from the Member States and from the Delegation participating in many of the activities. We are looking forward to engage with all of you.
I invite all of you to watch the excellent movies of the Anti-corruption Film Festival that the Delegation is proud to organise together with the Ministry of Justice.
Thank you and I wish you a great week.