Albania is a candidate country for an EU membership. The European Union decided to open the access to negotiations with Albania in March 2020. Albania is working closely with the EU to undertake reforms required for its EU accession path.
Albania is a candidate country following the Brussels European Council of June 2014. In March 2020, the European Union decided to open accession negotiations with Albania.
The opening of accession negotiations was the result of Albania's reform efforts in recent years and acknowledgment of the EU for the efforts made and the progress achieved on Albania's accession road. The decision also provides encouragement to continue with existing reforms and embark on new reforms necessary to prepare Albania for its accession path.
A constructive and sustainable political dialogue will remain essential to consolidate and continue reforms.
The opening of negotiations raises the relationship between Albania and the EU to a higher level.
The way forward
The first intergovernmental conferences will be convened as soon as possible after the adoption of the negotiating framework by the Council, following the steps laid out in its Conclusions of 25 March 2020.
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement was signed with Albania in June 2006 and entered into force in April 2009. It supersedes the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related aspects, which entered into force in December 2006. From an economic perspective, Albania’s EU candidate status (2014) encourages foreign investments and, as a result, leads to job creation.
As a candidate country, Albania continues to profit from EU funds under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) in order to carry out comprehensive reforms and strategic investments, and benefits from the participation in EU programmes.
Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are core values of the European Union. In view of the country’s European perspective, human rights and the protection of minorities play a central role in EU-Albania relations. The role of EU Delegation to Albania is to continue promoting fundamental rights and supporting their advocates. In this regard, the EU Delegation has three main missions:
Monitor the human rights situation
The EU Delegation collects, verifies and shares information to identify human rights violations, in cooperation with civil society organisations dealing with human rights. It maintains an active dialogue with the Albanian authorities on human rights protection and cooperates with other relevant international organisations, in particular UN, OSCE, and the Council of Europe, in promoting international norms and standards.
Maintain a permanent dialogue with human rights defenders
The EU Delegation consults and involves human rights defenders in issues related to human rights. It informs and assists them on the financial resources available and the means of applying for them. The EU Delegation is focused on understanding their needs to help shape EU financial assistance and stresses the need for further cooperation among human rights defenders. The EU Delegation provides its political support to relevant activities and initiatives organized by the human rights defenders. In addition, the EU Delegation supports the work of national bodies for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Delegation encourages the Albanian authorities to guarantee a favourable environment for human rights defenders and to further involve civil society organisations in the policy-making process.
Provide support to civil society organisations
The EU Delegation provides recognition and support to civil society actors actively working for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Albania, including funding opportunities and public awareness activities. In this regard, the EU Delegation provides financial support to civil society organisations under a number of instruments. Information on funding opportunities in the field of human rights and strengthening of civil society is regularly published on the website of the EU Delegation.
Human rights focal point/ EU liaison officer on human rights defenders:
International Monitoring Operation
The International Monitoring Operation (IMO) is based on Article B of the Annex to the Albanian Constitution and the vetting law. Pursuant to the latter, the IMO shall include, partners, within the framework of the European integration process and Euro-Atlantic cooperation and shall be led by the European Commission. The IMO appoints International Observers following a notification to the Council of Ministers. International Observers are members with at least 15 years of experience as judges or prosecutors in the judiciary in their own countries.
The relationship of the IMO with vetting bodies is regulated in detail in the Annex to the Albanian Constitution and the vetting law.
The International Observers are empowered by the legal framework to oversee the thoroughness of the vetting, which includes their right to express opinions and findings on all aspects of individual vetting procedures and ask questions during public hearings before the vetting bodies.