Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary, Poland block EU conclusions on rule of law
  2. France: wide EU backing for enlargement change
  3. EU Council calls for policy action to protect marine life
  4. ECJ: Poland's judicial independence in doubt
  5. Suspected 'middleman' in Caruana Galizia case arrested
  6. European populists more favourable to Russia
  7. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  8. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us