Thursday

18th Apr 2019

Ministers give nod to Albania's EU application

Albania has advanced another step on the road to European Union membership, with EU foreign ministers on Monday (16 November) backing the Balkan country's request for official candidate status.

The ministers gave the nod to Tirana after ambassadors from the 27 member states endorsed the move at a meeting in Brussels last week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The ball is now in the court of the European Commission, which must assess whether Albania is ready to start talks. The assessment process can last up to one year.

"The Council [of ministers] re-affirms that the future of the western Balkans lies in the European Union," the foreign ministers said in a statement.

Albania first applied for candidate status in April, shortly after having been admitted to Nato. The country's long wait for approval stands in contrast to Iceland's application, which was waved through in a matter of days.

Despite the development, it is certain that Tirana is looking at years of talks before it can join the European bloc.

In the EU executive's most recent assessment of the country, it found that Albania still had a long way to go in the battle against corruption and to set up an independent judiciary.

Few advances in tackling organised crime, drug trafficking and money laundering also remain core concerns of the commission, as well as freedom of the press.

Albania is currently confronted with a boycott by the opposition Socialists, who have refused to take up their seats in parliament since the June elections in which the governing Democrats won by a narrow margin.

The commission has said that the boycott issue needs to be resolved before it can give Tirana a clean bill of health.

The EU executive nevertheless felt that Albania had made progress in the last year.

If the country does win candidate status, it will need to begin to implement substantial political and economic reforms.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us