Relations between Albania and the EU

Relations between Albania and the EU

Diplomatic relations between Albania and the European Economic Community were established in June 1991. In May 1992, the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation was signed, which was followed by the signing of the Joint Political Declaration between Albania and the European Community. Albania became the first country in the region to sign such agreement.

At the Zagreb Summit of November 2000 the Stabilization and Association Process for five countries of the South Eastern Europe, including Albania, was launched. The negotiations with Albania for the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement were officially opened in 2003.

At the Thessaloniki Summit of June 2003, the EU officially confirmed the perspective of the EU membership for all countries which were part of the Stabilization and Association Process.

A key element of this process is the Stabilization and Association Agreement, signed on 12 June 2006.

The entry into force of this Agreement on 1 April 2009 marks a new, more advanced stage of relations between Albania and the EU, conceived as a contractual relationship with mutual obligations and rights between the parties. This Agreement superseded the Interim Agreement which was applicable for parties since December 2006 and aims at a gradual political, economic, and social approach of Albania towards the EU.

On 28 April 2008, Albania submitted its membership application to the EU Council. On 16 November 2009, the General Affairs and External Relations Council requested the Commission to prepare an Opinion for Albania. On 16 December 2009, the Questionnaire was handed over by the European Commission. Based on the responses in the Questionnaire, filled in by the Albanian party, on 10 November 2010, the European Commission published its Opinion on the application of Albania for membership, wherein 12 key priorities for opening the negotiations for EU membership were identified.

In the Progress Report of 2012, the Commission recommended that the Council grant Albania the EU candidate status, subject to the fulfillment of the key measures in the areas of judiciary and reform of the public administration, and the completion of the review of the parliamentary rules of procedure.

On 16 October 2013, the last Progress Report on Albania, as part of the Enlargement Strategy 2013-2014, was published. In view of the progress made, the Commission recommended that the Council grant Albania the candidate status, on the understanding that the country shall continue to take actions in fighting organized crime and corruption. In addition, the Commission defined five key priorities for the opening of accession negotiations, namely: public administration reform; strengthening of independence, efficiency, and accountability of judicial system; fight against corruption; protection of human rights, including Roma and anti-discrimination policies, as well as the implementation of property rights.  

On 11 November 2013, the high Level Dialogue on Key Priorities was launched between Albania and the European Commission, wherein the Government, independent institutions and the opposition participate. The High Level Dialogue (HLD) platform constitutes an essential element to ensure an all-encompassing process and focus energies on the necessary reform for advancing the European agenda of Albania.

 

Receiving the Candidate Status

On 24 June 2014, the General Affairs Council of the European Union decided to grant the candidate status to Albania and a couple of days later (on 27 June 2014), it was supported by the European Council. This coincided with the 10th anniversary of “Agenda 2014”, proposed by the Greek Government in 2004, as part of the Thessaloniki Summit.

 

EU-Albania political dialogue

The EU-Albania political dialogue accompanies and consolidates relations between the European Union and Albania and contributes to the establishment of close ties of solidarity and new ways of cooperation between the parties.

Upon the entry into force of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), the political dialogue between Albania and the EU takes place within the structure of the Stabilization and Association Council (SAC) and other common joint structures. The Stabilization and Association Council meets once a year to perform an overall assessment of the SAA implementation and reviews any important issue arising within the framework of its implementation.

In addition, the political dialogue at parliamentary level between Albania and the EU also takes place within the framework of the SAA, which foresees the establishment of the Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee composed of members of the European Parliament and the Albanian Parliament.

 

Visa liberalization process

In March 2008, the dialogue on the visa liberalization between Albania and the European Union was launched. The Roadmap for Albania was officially handed over in June 2008, to be followed by the process of meeting the requirements set out therein, by our Country.

On 15 September 2010, based on the fulfillment of the Roadmap criteria, the European Commission issued a positive assessment on Albania to the European Parliament and EU member states. This assessment paved the way for a decision on the visa liberalization for Albanian citizens in the Schengen area. The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council unanimously adopted the proposal of the Commission and on 15 December 2010, the visa liberalization regime for Albanian citizens in the Schengen area entered into force.