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Accession of Albania to the European Union

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Title: Accession of Albania to the European Union  
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Subject: Foreign relations of Albania, Future enlargement of the European Union, Passports issued by the European Union candidate states, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Albania), Albania
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Accession of Albania to the European Union

Albanian EU accession bid
EU member state average Albania
PPP GDP ($M) 552,780 29,092 [1]
Area (km2) 165,048 28,748
Population 18,583,598 3,195,000[2]
Opened chapters: 0
Closed chapters: 0
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The Republic of Albania is an official candidate for accession to the European Union since June 2014.

Officially recognised by the EU as a "potential candidate country" in 2000, Albania started negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in 2003. This was successfully agreed and signed on 12 June 2006, thus completing the first major step toward Albania's full membership in the EU. Albania applied for European Union membership on 28 April 2009.

Following the steps of the recently admitted Eastern European countries in 2004, Albania has been extensively engaged with EU institutions, and joined NATO as a full member in 2009.

Following its application for EU membership, the Council of the European Union asked the European Commission on 16 November 2009 to prepare an assessment on the readiness of Albania to start accession negotiations, a step in the accession process that usually takes about a year.[3] On 16 December 2009, the European Commission submitted the Questionnaire on accession preparation to the Albanian government. Albania returned answers to them on 14 April 2010.[4] In 5 December 2013, an MEP meeting recommended to the Council to grant Albania candidate status without undue delay.[5]

On 23 June 2014, under the Greek EU Presidency, the Council of the European Union agreed to grant Albania candidate status, which was endorsed by the European Council a few days later.

Chronology of the relations with the European Union

In 1992 a Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Albania was signed, and Albania became eligible for funding under the EU Phare programme. In 1997 the EU Council of Ministers established political and economic conditionality for the development of bilateral relations between Albania and the EU. In 1999 the EU proposed the new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Albania. Starting from 1999 Albania benefited from Autonomous Trade Preferences with the EU. In year 2000 duty-free access to EU market was granted for products from Albania.[6]

In June 2000, during the European Council stated that all the SAP countries are "potential candidates" for EU membership. In November 2000, at the Zagreb Summit, the SAP was officially endorsed by the EU and the Western Balkan countries (including Albania). 2001 was the first year of the new CARDS programme specifically designed for the SAP countries. In June 2001 the Commission recommended the undertaking of negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Albania. The Göteborg European Council (June 2001) invited the Commission to present draft negotiating directives for the negotiation of a SAA. In October 2002 directives for the negotiation of a SAA with Albania were adopted 31 January 2003. In 31 January, Commission President Prodi officially launches the negotiations for a SAA between the EU and Albania. In June 2003 at the Thessaloniki Summit, the SAP was confirmed as the EU policy for the Western Balkans and the EU perspective for these countries was confirmed (countries participating in the SAP started to be eligible for EU accession and would join the EU once they would become ready). In December 2005 the Council made the decision on the principles of a revised European Partnership for Albania. In 12 June 2006 the SAA was signed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg.[6]

In 9 November 2006 the European Commission decided to start visa facilitation negotiations with Albania, and in 13 April 2007 the visa facilitation agreement was signed in Zagreb. The signing EU Commissioner Franco Frattini was quoted saying that this is the first step toward a full abolishment of the visa requirements and the free movement of the Albanian citizens in the EU. In 1 January 2008 the visa facilitation agreement entered into force and in 7 March 2008 EU Commissioner Franco Frattini opened in Tirana the dialogue toward the liberalisation of the visa regime between Albania and EU. In 14 January 2009 the SAA ratification process by all the member states was completed and in 1 April 2009 The SAA entered into force. In 28 April 2009 Albania formally applied for membership in the European Union.[6]

In 16 November 2009 the Council of the EU asked the European Commission to prepare an assessment on Albania's readiness to start accession negotiations. The Commission submitted the Questionnaire on accession preparation to the Albanian government.[3]

In 14 April 2010 Albania submitted answers to the European Commission's Questionnaire,[4] but candidacy status was not granted by the EU in December 2010 due to the long-lasting political row in the country.[7]

In 27 May 2010 The European Commission proposed visa free travel for Albania. The adopted proposal will enable citizens of Albania to travel to Schengen countries without needing a short term visa.[8] In 8 November 2010 the Council of the European Union approved visa-free travel to Schengen Area for Albanian citizens.[9] In 15 December 2010 Visa-free access to the Schengen area entered into force and in 10 October 2012 the European Commission recommended that Albania be granted EU candidate status, subject to the completion of key measures in certain areas.

The parliament in August 2012 rejected a proposal to abolish immunity for parliament members, ministers and people in some other official positions. The EU required this to be abolished along with 11 other main issues, so candidate status was further delayed.[10] However, in September 2012 a constitutional amendment was unanimously passed which limited the immunity of parliamentarians.[11]

In October 2012 the European Commission evaluated the progress of Albania to comply with 12 key conditions to achieve official candidate status and start accession negotiations. Four key priorities were found to be met, while two were well in progress and the remaining six were in moderate progress. The report concluded that if Albania managed to hold a fair and democratic parliamentary election in June 2013, and also implemented the remaining changes to comply with the eight key priorities still not fully met, then the Council of the European Union would recommended granting Albania official candidate status.[12][13] In 23 June 2013 Albania held a general election, generally regarded as free and fair.[14] The EU ambassador to Albania said on July 17 that Albania had met many of these conditions, and might be an official candidate by December 2013.[15]

On 16 October 2013 the European Commission released its annual reports on prospective member states which concluded that the Albanian election was held in an "orderly manner" and that progress had been made in meeting other conditions; as such it recommended granting Albania candidate status.[16] In 5 December 2013 in an MEP meeting it was recommended that "...the Council should acknowledge the progress made by Albania by granting it candidate status without undue delay."[5] However, several states, including Denmark and the Netherlands, remained opposed to granting Albania candidate status until it demonstrated that its recent progress could be sustained.[17] Consequently, the Council of the European Union, at its meeting in December 2013, agreed to postpone the decision on candidate status until June 2014.[18] On 24 June 2014, under the Greek EU Presidency, the Council of the European Union agreed to grant Albania candidate status,[19][20] which was endorsed by the European Council a few days later.[21] This coincided with the 10th anniversary of the "Agenda 2014", proposed by the Greek Government in 2004, as part of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Thessaloniki, for boosting the integration of all the Western Balkan states into the European Union.

State of Stabilisation and Association Agreement ratification

Event Macedonia [22] Croatia [23] Albania [24] Montenegro [25][Note 1] Bosnia and
Serbia [28][Note 2] Kosovo* [Note 3]
SAA negotiations start 2000-04-05 2000-11-24 2003-01-31 2005-10-10 2005-11-25 2005-10-10 2013-10-28[30]
SAA initialled 2000-11-24 2001-05-14 2006-02-28 2007-03-15 2007-12-04 2007-11-07 2014-07-25[31]
SAA/IA signature 2001-04-09 2001-10-29 2006-06-12 2007-10-15 2008-06-16 2008-04-29 (?) [Note 4]
Interim Agreement:
EC ratification 2001-04-27 2002-01-30 2006-06-12 2007-10-15 2008-06-16 2009-12-08 N/A [Note 4]
SAP state ratification 2001-04-27 2002-01-30 2006-10-09 2007-11-14 2008-06-20 2008-09-22 N/A [Note 4]
entry into force 2001-06-01 2002-03-01 2006-12-01 2008-01-01 2008-07-01 2010-02-01 N/A [Note 4]
Notification of the EC of SAA ratification by:
SAP state 2001-04-27 2002-01-30 2006-11-09 2007-11-13 2009-02-26 2008-09-22 (?)
Austria 2002-09-06 2002-03-15 2008-05-21 2008-07-04 2009-09-04 2011-01-13 N/A
Belgium 2003-12-29 2003-12-17 2008-10-22 2010-03-29 2010-03-29 2012-03-20 N/A
Bulgaria entered the EU later 2008-05-30 2009-03-13 2010-08-12 N/A
Croatia entered the EU later N/A
Cyprus entered the EU later 2008-05-30 2008-11-20 2009-07-02 2010-11-26 N/A
Czech Republic entered the EU later 2008-05-07 2009-02-19 2009-07-23 2011-01-28 N/A
Denmark 2002-04-10 2002-05-08 2008-04-24 2008-06-25 2009-05-26 2011-03-04 N/A
Estonia entered the EU later 2007-10-17 2007-11-22 2008-09-11 2010-08-19 N/A
Finland 2004-01-06 2004-01-06 2007-11-29 2009-03-18 2009-04-07 2011-10-21 N/A
France 2003-06-04 2003-06-04 2009-02-12 2009-07-30 2011-02-10 2012-01-16 N/A
Germany 2002-06-20 2002-10-18 2009-02-19 2009-11-16 2009-08-14 2012-02-24 N/A
Greece 2003-08-27 2003-08-27 2009-02-26 2010-03-04 2010-09-20 2011-03-10 N/A
Hungary entered the EU later 2007-04-23 2008-05-14 2008-10-22 2010-11-16 N/A
Ireland 2002-05-06 2002-05-06 2007-06-11 2009-06-04 2009-06-04 2011-09-29 N/A
Italy 2003-10-30 2004-10-06 2008-01-07 2009-10-13 2010-09-08 2011-01-06 N/A
Latvia entered the EU later 2006-12-19 2008-10-17 2009-11-12 2011-05-30 N/A
Lithuania entered the EU later 2007-05-17 2009-03-04 2009-05-04 2013-06-26 N/A
Luxembourg 2003-07-28 2003-08-01 2007-07-04 2009-06-11 2010-12-22 2011-01-21 N/A
Malta entered the EU later 2008-04-21 2008-12-11 2010-01-07 2010-07-06 N/A
Netherlands 2002-09-09 2004-04-30 2007-12-10 2009-01-29 2009-09-30 2012-02-27 N/A
Poland entered the EU later 2007-04-14 2009-02-06 2010-04-07 2012-01-13 N/A
Portugal 2003-07-14 2003-07-14 2008-07-11 2008-09-23 2009-06-29 2011-03-04 N/A
Romania entered the EU later 2009-01-15 2010-01-08 2012-05-22 N/A
Slovakia entered the EU later 2007-07-20 2008-07-29 2009-03-17 2010-11-11 N/A
Slovenia entered the EU later 2007-01-18 2008-02-07 2009-03-10 2010-12-07 N/A
Spain 2002-10-04 2002-10-04 2007-05-03 2009-03-12 2010-06-15 2010-06-21 N/A
Sweden 2002-06-25 2003-03-27 2007-03-21 2009-03-11 2009-09-14 2011-04-15 N/A
United Kingdom 2002-12-17 2004-09-03 2007-10-16 2010-01-12 2010-04-20 2011-08-11 N/A
European Communities/European Union 2004-02-25 2004-12-21 2009-02-26 2010-03-29 (?)[Note 5] 2013-07-22 (?) [Note 6]
SAA entry into force 2004-04-01 2005-02-01 2009-04-01 2010-05-01 (?)[Note 5] 2013-09-01 (?)
EU membership (SAA lapsed) (?) 2013-07-01 (?) (?) (?) (?) (?)


(brackets): earliest possible date
N/A: Not applicable.

  1. ^ [26]
  2. ^ Serbia started negotiations in November 2005 while part of SiM, with a modified mandate from July 2006.
  3. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 108 out of 193 United Nations member states. The European Union remains divided on its policy towards Kosovo, with five EU member states not recognizing its independence. The EU launched a Stabilisation Tracking Mechanism for Kosovo on 6 November 2002 with the aim of aligning its policy with EU standards. On 10 October 2012 the European Commission found that there were no legal obstacles to Kosovo signing a SAA with the EU, as independence is not required for such an agreement.[29]
  4. ^ a b c d There will be no Interim Agreement associated with Kosovo's SAA.[32]
  5. ^ a b Although ratified by all EU member states, the entry into force of Bosnia's SAA has been delayed by the EU since Bosnia has yet to meet the preconditions set by the EU.[35]
  6. ^ Kosovo's SAA would be the first signed after the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty, which conferred a legal personality to the EU. As a result, the agreement will be directly between Kosovo and the EU and will not need to be ratified by each member state individually.[30][33][34]

Visa liberalisation process

On 1 January 2008 the visa facilitation and readmission agreements between Albania and the EU entered into force.[36] Albania received a road map from the EU for further visa liberalisation with Schengen countries in June 2008.[36] On 8 November 2010 the Council of the European Union approved visa-free travel to the EU for citizens of Albania.[9] The decision entered into force on 15 December 2010.[37]

Negotiation progress

Acquis chapter EC Assessment at Start Screening Started Screening Completed Chapter Opened Chapter Closed
1. Free Movement of Goods Considerable efforts needed
2. Freedom of Movement For Workers Further efforts needed
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services Further efforts needed
4. Free Movement of Capital Further efforts needed
5. Public Procurement Further efforts needed
6. Company Law Further efforts needed
7. Intellectual Property Law Considerable efforts needed
8. Competition Policy Further efforts needed
9. Financial Services Further efforts needed
10. Information Society & Media Considerable efforts needed
11. Agriculture & Rural Development Considerable efforts needed
12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy Considerable efforts needed
13. Fisheries Considerable efforts needed
14. Transport Policy Considerable efforts needed
15. Energy Further efforts needed
16. Taxation No major difficulties expected
17. Economic & Monetary Policy Further efforts needed
18. Statistics Further efforts needed
19. Social Policy & Employment Considerable efforts needed
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy No major difficulties expected
21. Trans-European Networks Further efforts needed
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments Considerable efforts needed
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights Considerable efforts needed
24. Justice, Freedom & Security Considerable efforts needed
25. Science & Research No major difficulties expected
26. Education & Culture No major difficulties expected
27. Environment & Climate Change Totally incompatible with acquis -
28. Consumer & Health Protection Further efforts needed
29. Customs Union No major difficulties expected
30. External Relations No major difficulties expected
31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy No major difficulties expected
32. Financial Control Considerable efforts needed
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions No major difficulties expected
34. Institutions Nothing to adopt
35. Other Issues Nothing to adopt
Progress 0 out of 33 0 out of 33 0 out of 35 0 out of 35

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ INSTAT of Albania (2010). "Population of Albania on 1 January 2010" (in Albanian). Institute of Statistics of Albania. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b "Albania's Berisha delivers questionnaire responses to Brussels". 2010-04-15. Archived from the original on 17 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-19. 
  5. ^ a b "ViEU integration: progress reports for Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Iceland". European Parliament. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c "Albania - EU-Albania relations". European Commission. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  7. ^ MEMO/10/553: Key findings of the Opinion on Albania; Enlargement Strategy and Progress Report 2010; [1]; Balkan Insight
  8. ^ "European Commission proposes visa free travel for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina". 2010-05-27. Archived from the original on 1 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  9. ^ a b "Visa liberalisation for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina" (PDF). Council Of The European Union. 2010-11-08. Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  10. ^ Albania fails to vote through reform required by EU
  11. ^ "Albanian lawmakers vote to curtail their constitutional immunity from prosecution".  
  12. ^ "Albania Receives EU Candidate Status, With Conditions".  
  13. ^ Commission, European. "Key findings of the 2012 Progress Report on Albania". Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  14. ^ Albania might be EU candidate by December
  15. ^ "Albania might be EU candidate by December". 2013-07-17. 
  16. ^ "EU enlargement: priorities for 2014".  
  17. ^ "Serbia Expected To Get EU Membership Boost; Delay For Albania". 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  18. ^ "Council conclusions on Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process".  
  19. ^ "EU candidate status for Albania".  
  20. ^ "European Union - EEAS (European External Action Service) | EU candidate status for Albania".  
  22. ^ "SAA Agreement with Macedonia". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  23. ^ "SAA Agreement with Croatia". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  24. ^ "SAA Agreement with Albania". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  25. ^ "SAA Agreement with Montenegro". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  26. ^ "EU, Montenegro complete negotiations on pre-membership deal to bring country closer to bloc". International Herald Tribune. The Associated Press. 2006-12-01. Archived from the original on 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  27. ^ "SAA Agreement with Bosnia". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  28. ^ "SAA Agreement with Serbia". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  29. ^ "Feasibility Study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Kosovo" (PDF). European Commission. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  30. ^ a b "EU starts the Stabilisation and Association Agreement negotiations with Kosovo".  
  31. ^ "Stabilization and Association Agreement is initialled". Ministry of European Integration of the Republic of Kosovo. 2014-07-25. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  32. ^ "Kosovo to negotiate on Stabilisation and Association Agreement". 2013-10-27. Retrieved 2013-10-27. 
  33. ^ "Stabilisation and Association Agreement negotiations successfully completed".  
  34. ^ "Kosovo Launches Crucial SAA Talks With EU".  
  35. ^ "Press: Bosnia-EU relations put on hold". 2011-04-26. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  36. ^ a b "Albania - EU-Albania relations".  
  37. ^ Regulation (EU) no. 1091/2010 in the Official Journal

Further reading

  • Albania and the European Union: the tumultuous journey towards integration ... By Mirela Bogdani, John Loughlin, 2007
  • Delegation of the European Union to Albania
  • European Commission - Enlargement: Country Profile.
  • Albanian Ministry of European Integration
  • Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • European Commission - Western Balkans: Enhancing the European perspective
  • European Commission - Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010
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