Wednesday

23rd Aug 2017

Commission backs Albania-EU membership talks

  • Tirana: one of the EU's next members? (Photo: lassi.kurkijarvi)

The European Commission has said Albania should be given the green light to open EU membership talks.

Presenting the EU executive's annual enlargement reports on Wednesday (16 October), commissioner Stefan Fuele said that the step, which comes three years after the commission rejected Albania's first application, was conditional on Tirana continuing to combat organised crime and corruption.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

EU governments will decide on whether to formalise candidate status at a summit in December.

"There are five key priorities which stand between Albania and accession talks: corruption, organised crime, judiciary, administrative reform, human rights," said Fuele.

Balkan neighbour Croatia became the twenty-eighth member state in July following a six-year negotiation process. It is the second country, after Slovenia, from the former Yugoslavia to join the EU.

Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro have already been granted candidate status, although none are likely to join the bloc before 2020.

As part of the process of integration, candidate countries are required to adapt the EU's rule-book into their national law to align their economies to the bloc's single market. They are also expected to ensure judicial independence and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, the commission also set out plans to re-inject life into membership negotiations with Turkey after a a three year pause. Accession "remains the most suitable framework for promoting EU-related reforms," said the EU executive.

EU governments called a halt to talks with Ankara in June after peaceful protests in Istanbul were violently put down by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

For their part, both Montenegro and Serbia were praised for their progress. Fuele revealed that Montenegro would be the first country to start talks on chapters 23 and 24, which deal with judicial reform, human rights and security.

"According to my crystal ball we might be able to open both these chapters before the end of the year," he said.

The commission also made its fifth recommendation in as many years for accession talks to start with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia stating that it was "time to break the vicious link".

Greece has blocked Macedonia's EU and Nato membership for the past four years, arguing that Macedonia must change its name on the grounds that the current one implies a territorial claim on a Greek region also called Macedonia.

The country has also had a long-running dispute with neighbouring Bulgaria over claims that ethnic Bulgarians have been discriminated against.

For his part, Fuele urged Skopje's politicians deal with the 'name issue', calling on them to assess "not only the cost of the compromise (name issue) but to address the cost of not moving forward."

However, the commission admitted that talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina were "at a standstill". Bosnian politicians "have to recognise that there is a price for them not meeting their commitments," commented Fuele.

Iceland's talks to join the bloc were "on ice" quipped Fuele, who added that the commission had been left with "no doubts" after the island's recently elected government called a halt to EU talks in July. That said, he left the door open to an Icelandic change of heart.

"We will respect their timeline," he said, noting that "we were not that far from being able to present a deal."

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.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

News in Brief

  1. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  2. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  3. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  4. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US
  5. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  6. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  7. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  8. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference