Albania has progressed and showed political commitment to EU-related reforms - this is one of the conclusions of the EU-Albania Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, which met for the 12th time in the country’s capital Tirana.
Progress in implementing EU-related reforms
This is a crucial year for Albania, which is part of the Western Balkans - a region whose European future is one of the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU.
EPP Group MEPs Eduard Kukan and Vladimir Urutchev took part in the committee's debates and discussed the progress of Albania in implementing the rule of law, judicial reform and the vetting process. The latest general elections, electoral reform, money laundering and the fight against organised crime and corruption were also discussed.
Mr Kukan underlined Albania's sustained progress and the political commitment by all political parties to reform. He stressed that the EU accession negotiations will require joint efforts from all political parties to represent the interests of Albanian citizens.
Mr Urutchev said that one of the key priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency is EU Enlargement Policy, which sets as a main goal supporting the Western Balkans in their efforts to move forward on their European path. The progress of each country should be based on its merit, meeting established criteria and carrying out necessary reforms.
Starting accession negotiations with Albania
Albania submitted its official application for EU membership and started to meet different criteria. In 2012 the European Commission recommended giving Albania candidate status and two years later the country officially became a candidate country.
At the beginning of February, the European Commission presented its Western Balkans strategy, in which it said that Albania and FYROM are “making significant progress on their European path and the Commission is ready to prepare recommendations to open accession negotiations, on the basis of fulfilled conditions”.
The 12th EU-Albania Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee fully supported the start of Albania's accession negotiations to the European Union.
Setting a date for the opening of accession negotiations would provide a powerful incentive for adopting and implementing the whole set of EU-related reforms.