Albania was recognised as a potential candidate country for EU accession in 2003 and officially submitted a membership application in April 2009.
Several agreements ensure close collaboration between the EU and Albania. A European partnership with Albania provides support to the Albanian authorities in their quest for EU membership by identifying areas in which further effort and reforms are required.
A Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) entered into force on 1 April 2009, laying out the conditions for membership. Short stays in the EU became easier in 2008 with the entry into force of a visa facilitation agreement.
Albania is a potential candidate country for EU accession following the Thessaloniki European Council of June 2003. On 18 February 2008 the Council adopted a new European partnership with Albania. The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the country was signed on 12 June 2006 and entered into force on 1 April 2009. It supersedes the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related aspects, which entered into force in December 2006.The EU-Albania visa facilitation agreement entered into force in January 2008 while the readmission agreement entered into force in 2006. Key dates in Albania's path towards the EU
15 December 2010: Visa Liberalisation with Albania enters into force
9 November 2010: The Commission issues its Opinion on Albania's membership request
16 November 2009: Council approves Albania's application for EU membership and invites the European Commission to submit an opinion on the application.
28 April 2009: Albania submits its application for EU membership.
1 April 2009: Entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) .
June 2008: The European Commission presents a road map identifying specific requirements for visa liberalisation with Albania.
March 2008: Visa liberalisation dialogue launched.
18 February 2008: Council decision on a revised European partnership for Albania.
22 January 2008: Albania and the EC sign the Financing Agreement for the instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) 2007 National Programme.
January 2008: The visa facilitation agreement enters into force.
18 October 2007: Albania signs the IPA Framework Agreement.
September 2007: Signature of a visa facilitation agreement between Albania and the EU.
May 2007: Adoption of the Multi-Annual Indicative Planning Document (MIPD) 2007-2009 for Albania under the IPA.
January 2007: Entry into force of the new instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).
December 2006: Entry into force of the Interim Agreement .
June 2006: Signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg.
May 2006: Entry into force of the EC-Albania readmission agreement.
January 2006: Council decision on a revised European Partnership for Albania.
June 2004: Council decision on a first European Partnership for Albania.
June 2003: At Thessaloniki European Council the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) is confirmed as the EU policy for the Western Balkans. The EU perspective for these countries is confirmed (countries participating in the SAP are eligible for EU accession and may join the EU once they are ready).
January 2003:Commission President Prodi officially launches the negotiations for a SAA between the EU and Albania.
October 2002: Negotiating Directives for the negotiation of a SAA with Albania are adopted in October.
2001: The Commission recommends the undertaking of negotiations on SAA with Albania. The Goeteborg European Council invites the Commission to present draft negotiating directives for the negotiation of a SAA.
2001: First year of the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) programme specifically designed for the Stabilisation and Association Process countries.
November 2000: Zagreb Summit launches the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Albania.
June 2000: Feira European Council states that all the countries under the SAP are "potential candidates" for EU membership.
2000: Extension of duty-free access to EU market for products from Albania.
1999: Albania benefits from Autonomous Trade Preferences with the EU.
1999: The EU proposes a new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Albania.
1997: Regional Approach. The EU Council of Ministers establishes political and economic conditionality for the development of bilateral relations.
1992: Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Albania. Albania becomes eligible for funding under the EU PHARE programme.