Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

Albania to become EU 'candidate', urged to fight corruption

  • Tirana: EU countries want to see action on irregular migration and organised crime (Photo: lassi.kurkijarvi)

EU countries have said Albania should be formally designated as an EU “candidate” in a decision to be rubber-stamped at the summit on Friday (27 June).

The decision means the whole Balkan region, except Bosnia, is, more or less quickly, moving forward to EU membership.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The EU on Tuesday also opened three more chapters in its accession talks with Montenegro.

It has ongoing talks with Serbia and Turkey.

The Turkey talks are not going well: Senior EU officials met with Turkey’s EU affairs minister in Brussels on Monday to urge Ankara to respect the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary amid a crackdown on anti-government protesters.

It did not achieve much. “They blamed us, we blamed them: It’s business as usual,” an EU official said. But the European Commission is still keen to open three new accession chapters this year if EU states agree.

Kosovo is a special case because five EU countries do not recognise it.

But the commission expects to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), a first step on the road to EU accession, this year or in early next year and to tackle the recognition problem later.

Macedonia is in a tricky spot.

It has “candidate” status and the commission has for five years in a row said EU states should start accession talks. But Greece continues to block the move because it says Macedonia should change its name to avoid a clash with a neighbouring Greek region of the same name.

An EU official said Bosnia, which has signed an SAA, is “rather regressing than progressing”, amid political infighting between rival ethnic groups.

Iceland is the only other country on the road to EU membership.

But its talks are in limbo pending a decision by the new government whether or not to revoke its application.

Enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule said on Twitter the Albania move is an “acknowledgement of reform efforts” and an “encouragement for more”.

He noted on his website that Albania will now be able to attend some EU ministers’ meetings and join some EU agencies, such as the Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna, as an observer.

He added that “candidate status will [also] encourage foreign investments and, as a result, lead to job creation”.

Croatia’s EU affairs minister, Vesna Pusic, said earlier on Tuesday: “It's far from membership, but it's an important step and it's something which Albania has richly deserved”.

The next step will come when EU states agree to open accession talks. But there is no date for the move at this stage.

For his part, Albanian PM Edi Rama said on TV on Tuesday that the closer his country moves to EU accession “the road is more difficult and the challenge becomes bigger … [but] we are convinced that we shall do it despite the conditionalities”.

The EU Council in a statement noted that Albania must “establish a solid track record of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in cases of corruption and organised crime, particularly organised immigration crime, the use of fraudulent documents, money laundering, drug cultivation and human trafficking” to go further.

It also urged Rama to take “further steps to address the issue of unfounded asylum applications lodged by Albanian nationals” in EU countries.

Opinion

Albania deserves EU candidate status

There is another country but Ukraine, closer to home, where 87 percent of the population want membership, and are ready to make huge efforts to obtain it. It's called Albania.

Bosnia unrest a 'wake-up call' for EU

The UK has said protests in Bosnia are a “wake-up call” for the EU, amid the worst unrest since end of the 1992-1995 war.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'