Accession of Albania to the European Union

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Albanian EU accession bid
Albania in Eu logo.jpg
European Union Albania Locator.svg
Status Candidate
Opened chapters 0
Closed chapters 0
Website http://www.integrimi.gov.al/
Statistics
EU averageAlbania
PPP GDP ($M)552,78029,092[1]
PPP per capita ($)40,60011,840[2]
Area (km2)165,04828,748
Population18,583,5983,195,000[3]
Coat of arms of Albania.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Albania

The Republic of Albania has been an official candidate for accession to the European Union (EU) since June 2014 and is on the current agenda for future enlargement of the EU.

Officially recognised by the EU as a "potential candidate country" in 2000, Albania started negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in 2003. This was successfully agreed and signed on 12 June 2006, thus completing the first major step toward Albania's full membership in the EU. Albania applied for European Union membership on 28 April 2009.

Following the steps of countries joining the EU in 2004, Albania has been extensively engaged with EU institutions, and joined NATO as a full member in 2009.

Following its application for EU membership, the Council of the European Union asked the European Commission on 16 November 2009 to prepare an assessment on the readiness of Albania to start accession negotiations, a step in the accession process that usually takes about a year.[4] On 16 December 2009, the European Commission submitted the Questionnaire on accession preparation to the Albanian government. Albania returned answers to them on 14 April 2010.[5] On 5 December 2013, an MEP meeting recommended to the Council to grant Albania candidate status without undue delay.[6]

On 23 June 2014, under the Greek EU Presidency, the Council of the European Union agreed to grant Albania candidate status, which was endorsed by the European Council a few days later.

Albania is currently receiving EUR 1.2bn of developmental aid until 2020 from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, a funding mechanism for EU candidate countries.

Chronology of the relations with the European Union[edit]

In 1992 a Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Albania was signed, and Albania became eligible for funding under the EU Phare programme. In 1997 the EU Council of Ministers established political and economic conditionality for the development of bilateral relations between Albania and the EU. In 1999 the EU proposed the new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of Southeastern Europe, including Albania. Starting from 1999 Albania benefited from Autonomous Trade Preferences with the EU. In year 2000 duty-free access to EU market was granted for products from Albania.[7]

In June 2000, during the European Council stated that all the SAP countries are "potential candidates" for EU membership. In November 2000, at the Zagreb Summit, the SAP was officially endorsed by the EU and the Western Balkan countries (including Albania). 2001 was the first year of the new CARDS programme specifically designed for the SAP countries. In June 2001 the Commission recommended the undertaking of negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Albania. The Göteborg European Council (June 2001) invited the Commission to present draft negotiating directives for the negotiation of a SAA. In October 2002 directives for the negotiation of a SAA with Albania were adopted 31 January 2003. On 31 January, Commission President Prodi officially launches the negotiations for a SAA between the EU and Albania. In June 2003 at the Thessaloniki Summit, the SAP was confirmed as the EU policy for the Western Balkans and the EU perspective for these countries was confirmed (countries participating in the SAP started to be eligible for EU accession and would join the EU once they would become ready). In December 2005 the Council made the decision on the principles of a revised European Partnership for Albania. On 12 June 2006 the SAA was signed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg.[7]

On 9 November 2006 the European Commission decided to start visa facilitation negotiations with Albania, and on 13 April 2007 the visa facilitation agreement was signed in Zagreb. The signing EU Commissioner Franco Frattini was quoted saying that this is the first step toward a full abolishment of the visa requirements and the free movement of the Albanian citizens in the EU. On 1 January 2008 the visa facilitation agreement entered into force and on 7 March 2008 EU Commissioner Franco Frattini opened in Tirana the dialogue toward the liberalisation of the visa regime between Albania and EU. On 14 January 2009 the SAA ratification process by all the member states was completed and on 1 April 2009 The SAA entered into force.

On 28 April 2009 Albania formally applied for membership in the European Union.[7] On 16 November 2009 the Council of the EU asked the European Commission to prepare an assessment on Albania's readiness to start accession negotiations. The Commission submitted the questionnaire on accession preparation to the Albanian government.[4] On 14 April 2010 Albania submitted answers to the European Commission's questionnaire,[5] but candidacy status was not granted by the EU in December 2010 due to the long-lasting political row in the country.[8]

On 27 May 2010 The European Commission proposed visa free travel for Albania. The adopted proposal will enable citizens of Albania to travel to Schengen countries without needing a short term visa.[9] On 8 November 2010 the Council of the European Union approved visa-free travel to Schengen Area for Albanian citizens.[10] On 15 December 2010 visa-free access to the Schengen area entered into force and on 10 October 2012 the European Commission recommended that Albania be granted EU candidate status, subject to the completion of key measures in certain areas.

The parliament in August 2012 rejected a proposal to abolish immunity for parliament members, ministers and people in some other official positions. The EU required this to be abolished along with 11 other main issues, so candidate status was further delayed.[11] However, in September 2012 a constitutional amendment was unanimously passed which limited the immunity of parliamentarians.[12]

In October 2012 the European Commission evaluated the progress of Albania to comply with 12 key conditions to achieve official candidate status and start accession negotiations. Four key priorities were found to be met, while two were well in progress and the remaining six were in moderate progress. The report concluded that if Albania managed to hold a fair and democratic parliamentary election in June 2013, and also implemented the remaining changes to comply with the eight key priorities still not fully met, then the Council of the European Union would recommended granting Albania official candidate status.[13][14] On 23 June 2013 Albania held a general election, generally regarded as free and fair.[15] The EU ambassador to Albania said on July 17 that Albania had met many of these conditions, and might be an official candidate by December 2013.[16]

On 16 October 2013 the European Commission released its annual reports on prospective member states which concluded that the Albanian election was held in an "orderly manner" and that progress had been made in meeting other conditions; as such it recommended granting Albania candidate status.[17] On 5 December 2013 in an MEP meeting it was recommended that "...the Council should acknowledge the progress made by Albania by granting it candidate status without undue delay."[6] However, several states, including Denmark and the Netherlands, remained opposed to granting Albania candidate status until it demonstrated that its recent progress could be sustained.[18] Consequently, the Council of the European Union, at its meeting in December 2013, agreed to postpone the decision on candidate status until June 2014.[19] On 24 June 2014, under the Greek EU Presidency, the Council of the European Union agreed to grant Albania candidate status,[20][21] which was endorsed by the European Council a few days later.[22] This coincided with the 10th anniversary of the "Agenda 2014",[23] proposed by the Greek Government in 2004, as part of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Thessaloniki, for boosting the integration of all the Western Balkan states into the European Union.[24]

In March 2015, at the fifth "High Level Dialogue meeting" between Albania and EU, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement (Johannes Hahn) notified Albania the setting of a start date for accession negotiations to begin still required the following two conditions to be met: 1) The government need to reopen political dialogue with the parliamentary opposition, 2) Albania must deliver quality reforms for all 5 earlier identified key areas not yet complied with (public administration, rule of law, corruption, organised crime, fundamental rights[25]).[26] This official stance, was fully supported by the European Parliament through its pass of a Resolution comment in April 2015,[27] which basically agreed with all conclusions drawn by the Commission's latest 2014 Progress Report on Albania.[28] The Albanian Prime Minister outlined the next step of his government would be to submit a detailed progress report on the implementation of the 5 key reforms to the Commission in Autumn 2015, and then he expected the accession negotiations should start shortly afterwards - before the end of 2015.[26]

The Albanian parliament approved constitutional amendments on justice reforms on 22 July 2016. Albania had hoped to open membership negotiations by December 2016.[29] The Commission recommended the launch of negotiations on 9 November 2016.[30]

However, on 26 November Germany announced that it would veto the opening accession talks until 2018.[31]

In early 2017, the European Parliament warned the government leaders that the parliamentary elections in June must be "free and fair" before negotiations could begin to admit the country into the Union. The MEPs also expressed concern about the country's selective justice, corruption, the overall length of judicial proceedings and political interference in investigations and court cases but the EU Press Release expressed some optimism: It is important for Albania to maintain today's reform momentum and we must be ready to support it as much as possible in this process.[32][33]

European Commission recommend European Council to open negotiations with Albania & Macedonia in April 2018. In June European Council of Ministers meeting to discuss for open negotiations or no for 2 countries Albania & Macedonia.

State of Stabilisation and Association Agreement ratification[edit]

Status of SAA ratification
Event Macedonia [34] Croatia [35] Albania [36] Montenegro [37][Note 1] Bosnia and
Herzegovina
[39]
Serbia [40][Note 2] Kosovo* [41][Note 3]
SAA negotiations start 2000-04-05 2000-11-24 2003-01-31 2005-10-10 2005-11-25 2005-10-10 2013-10-28[43]
SAA initialled 2000-11-24 2001-05-14 2006-02-28 2007-03-15 2007-12-04 2007-11-07 2014-07-25[44]
SAA/IA signature 2001-04-09 2001-10-29 2006-06-12 2007-10-15 2008-06-16 2008-04-29 2015-10-27[45]
Interim Agreement:
EC ratification 2001-04-27 2002-01-30 2006-06-12 2007-10-15 2008-06-16 2009-12-08 N/A [Note 4]
SAP state ratification 2001-04-27 2002-01-30 2006-10-09 2007-11-14 2008-06-20 2008-09-22 N/A [Note 4]
entry into force 2001-06-01 2002-03-01 2006-12-01 2008-01-01 2008-07-01 2010-02-01 N/A [Note 4]
Deposit of the instrument of ratification:
SAP state 2001-04-27 2002-01-30 2006-11-09 2007-11-13 2009-02-26 2008-09-22 2016-02-26
Austria 2002-09-06 2002-03-15 2008-05-21 2008-07-04 2009-09-04 2011-01-13 N/A
Belgium 2003-12-29 2003-12-17 2008-10-22 2010-03-29 2010-03-29 2012-03-20 N/A
Bulgaria entered the EU later 2008-05-30 2009-03-13 2010-08-12 N/A
Croatia entered the EU later N/A
Cyprus entered the EU later 2008-05-30 2008-11-20 2009-07-02 2010-11-26 N/A
Czech Republic entered the EU later 2008-05-07 2009-02-19 2009-07-23 2011-01-28 N/A
Denmark 2002-04-10 2002-05-08 2008-04-24 2008-06-25 2009-05-26 2011-03-04 N/A
Estonia entered the EU later 2007-10-17 2007-11-22 2008-09-11 2010-08-19 N/A
Finland 2004-01-06 2004-01-06 2007-11-29 2009-03-18 2009-04-07 2011-10-21 N/A
France 2003-06-04 2003-06-04 2009-02-12 2009-07-30 2011-02-10 2012-01-16 N/A
Germany 2002-06-20 2002-10-18 2009-02-19 2009-11-16 2009-08-14 2012-02-24 N/A
Greece 2003-08-27 2003-08-27 2009-02-26 2010-03-04 2010-09-20 2011-03-10 N/A
Hungary entered the EU later 2007-04-23 2008-05-14 2008-10-22 2010-11-16 N/A
Ireland 2002-05-06 2002-05-06 2007-06-11 2009-06-04 2009-06-04 2011-09-29 N/A
Italy 2003-10-30 2004-10-06 2008-01-07 2009-10-13 2010-09-08 2011-01-06 N/A
Latvia entered the EU later 2006-12-19 2008-10-17 2009-11-12 2011-05-30 N/A
Lithuania entered the EU later 2007-05-17 2009-03-04 2009-05-04 2013-06-26 N/A
Luxembourg 2003-07-28 2003-08-01 2007-07-04 2009-06-11 2010-12-22 2011-01-21 N/A
Malta entered the EU later 2008-04-21 2008-12-11 2010-01-07 2010-07-06 N/A
Netherlands 2002-09-09 2004-04-30 2007-12-10 2009-01-29 2009-09-30 2012-02-27 N/A
Poland entered the EU later 2007-04-14 2009-02-06 2010-04-07 2012-01-13 N/A
Portugal 2003-07-14 2003-07-14 2008-07-11 2008-09-23 2009-06-29 2011-03-04 N/A
Romania entered the EU later 2009-01-15 2010-01-08 2012-05-22 N/A
Slovakia entered the EU later 2007-07-20 2008-07-29 2009-03-17 2010-11-11 N/A
Slovenia entered the EU later 2007-01-18 2008-02-07 2009-03-10 2010-12-07 N/A
Spain 2002-10-04 2002-10-04 2007-05-03 2009-03-12 2010-06-15 2010-06-21 N/A
Sweden 2002-06-25 2003-03-27 2007-03-21 2009-03-11 2009-09-14 2011-04-15 N/A
United Kingdom 2002-12-17 2004-09-03 2007-10-16 2010-01-12 2010-04-20 2011-08-11 N/A
European Communities or
European Union and Euratom
2004-02-25 2004-12-21 2009-02-26 2010-03-29 2015-04-30 2013-07-22 2016-02-24 [Note 5]
SAA entry into force 2004-04-01 2005-02-01 2009-04-01 2010-05-01 2015-06-01 2013-09-01 2016-04-01[49]
EU membership (SAA lapsed) (TBD) 2013-07-01 (TBD) (TBD) (TBD) (TBD) (TBD)

N/A: Not applicable.

  1. ^ Montenegro started negotiations in November 2005 while a part of Serbia and Montenegro (SiM). Separate technical negotiations were conducted regarding issues of sub-state organizational competency. A mandate for direct negotiations with Montenegro was established in July 2006. Direct negotiations were initiated on 26 September 2006 and concluded on 1 December 2006.[38]
  2. ^ Serbia started negotiations in November 2005 while part of SiM, with a modified mandate from July 2006.
  3. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states. The European Union remains divided on its policy towards Kosovo, with five EU member states not recognizing its independence. The EU launched a Stabilisation Tracking Mechanism for Kosovo on 6 November 2002 with the aim of aligning its policy with EU standards. On 10 October 2012 the European Commission found that there were no legal obstacles to Kosovo signing a SAA with the EU, as independence is not required for such an agreement.[42]
  4. ^ a b c No Interim Agreement associated with Kosovo's SAA was concluded.[46]
  5. ^ Kosovo's SAA was the first signed after the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty, which conferred a legal personality to the EU. As a result, unlike previous SAAs Kosovo's is exclusively between it and the EU and Euratom, and the member states are not parties independently.[43][47][48]

Visa liberalisation process[edit]

On 1 January 2008 the visa facilitation and readmission agreements between Albania and the EU entered into force.[50] Albania received a road map from the EU for further visa liberalisation with Schengen countries in June 2008.[50] On 8 November 2010 the Council of the European Union approved visa-free travel to the EU for citizens of Albania.[10] The decision entered into force on 15 December 2010.[51]

Negotiation progress[edit]

As of April 2018, the European Commission has voiced support for starting accession negotiations with Albania.[52] The European Council will make the decision if Albania is ready to start accession negotiations in June 2018.[53] As such, no chapters have been opened thus far. If the European Council approves, screening will start and once screening has finished, accession negotiations will begin. However Knut Fleckenstein, a Member of the European Parliament said in June, 2018 that Albania has fulfilled conditions for EU accession negotiations.[54]

Screening and Chapter Dates
Acquis chapter Screening Started Screening Completed Chapter Opened Chapter Closed
1. Free Movement of Goods
2. Freedom of Movement For Workers
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services
4. Free Movement of Capital
5. Public Procurement
6. Company Law
7. Intellectual Property Law
8. Competition Policy
9. Financial Services
10. Information Society & Media
11. Agriculture & Rural Development
12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy
13. Fisheries
14. Transport Policy
15. Energy
16. Taxation
17. Economic & Monetary Policy
18. Statistics
19. Social Policy & Employment
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy
21. Trans-European Networks
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights
24. Justice, Freedom & Security
25. Science & Research
26. Education & Culture
27. Environment & Climate Change
28. Consumer & Health Protection
29. Customs Union
30. External Relations
31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy
32. Financial Control
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions
34. Institutions
35. Other Issues
Progress 0 out of 33 0 out of 33 0 out of 35 0 out of 35
Latest EC Assessment
Acquis chapter Status as of April 2018[52] Chapter Status
Overview 5 chapters at early stage
12 chapters with some level of preparation
15 chapters with moderate preparation
1 chapter with good level of preparation
2 chapters with nothing to adopt
0 chapters opened
1. Free Movement of Goods Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
2. Freedom of Movement For Workers Early stage Chapter not yet opened
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
4. Free Movement of Capital Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
5. Public Procurement Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
6. Company Law Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
7. Intellectual Property Law Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
8. Competition Policy Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
9. Financial Services Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
10. Information Society & Media Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
11. Agriculture & Rural Development Early stage Chapter not yet opened
12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
13. Fisheries Early stage Chapter not yet opened
14. Transport Policy Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
15. Energy Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
16. Taxation Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
17. Economic & Monetary Policy Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
18. Statistics Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
19. Social Policy & Employment Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
21. Trans-European Networks Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
24. Justice, Freedom & Security Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
25. Science & Research Early stage Chapter not yet opened
26. Education & Culture Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
27. Environment & Climate Change Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
28. Consumer & Health Protection Early stage Chapter not yet opened
29. Customs Union Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
30. External Relations Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy Good level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
32. Financial Control Moderately prepared Chapter not yet opened
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions Some level of preparation Chapter not yet opened
34. Institutions Nothing to adopt Chapter not yet opened
35. Other Issues Nothing to adopt Chapter not yet opened
Negotiation History
Acquis chapter EC Assessment in 2015[55] EC Assessment in 2016[56] EC Assessment in 2018[52]
1. Free Movement of Goods Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Some level of preparation
2. Freedom of Movement For Workers Early stage Early stage Early stage
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
4. Free Movement of Capital Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
5. Public Procurement Some level of preparation Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
6. Company Law Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
7. Intellectual Property Law Some level of preparation Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
8. Competition Policy Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Some level of preparation
9. Financial Services Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
10. Information Society & Media Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
11. Agriculture & Rural Development Early stage Early stage Early stage
12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy Some level of preparation Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
13. Fisheries Early stage Early stage Early stage
14. Transport Policy Some level of preparation Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
15. Energy Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
16. Taxation Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
17. Economic & Monetary Policy Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
18. Statistics Some level of preparation Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
19. Social Policy & Employment Some level of preparation Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
21. Trans-European Networks Some level of preparation Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights Some level of preparation Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
24. Justice, Freedom & Security Early stage Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
25. Science & Research Early stage Early stage Early stage
26. Education & Culture Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
27. Environment & Climate Change Early stage Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
28. Consumer & Health Protection Early stage Early stage Early stage
29. Customs Union Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
30. External Relations Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy Good level of preparation Good level of preparation Good level of preparation
32. Financial Control Moderately prepared Moderately prepared Moderately prepared
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions Some level of preparation Some level of preparation Some level of preparation
34. Institutions Nothing to adopt Nothing to adopt Nothing to adopt
35. Other Issues Nothing to adopt Nothing to adopt Nothing to adopt
  totally incompatible
  early stage / very hard to adopt
  considerable efforts needed
  some level of preparation
  further efforts needed
  moderately prepared
  no major difficulties expected
  good level of preparation
  well prepared / well advanced

Impact of joining[edit]

Member countries Population Area (km²) GDP
(billion US$)
GDP
per capita (US$)
Languages
Albania Albania 3,000,110 28,748 14.12 4,912 Albanian
EU28 507,890,191 4,381,376 17,267 33,998 24
EU28+1 510,766,782
(+0.56%)
4,410,124
(+0.65%)
18,679
(+0.08%)
33,522
(−0.14%)
25

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]