Tirana, 4.06.2014 – “I can without any reservation, beyond any doubt, confirm the recommendation of the European Commission to grant Albania candidate status,” Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said after the third round of the High Level Dialogue on Key Priorities in Tirana where he presented the Report on progress of the country on judicial reform, fight against organised crime and corruption. The Report was prepared following the request from the EU Members States in December and will serve as a basis for them to decide on granting Albania candidate status at the European Council later this month.
Based on the findings of the Report the European Commission confirms its recommendation that the Member States should grant Albania the candidate status. This is based on continued political will of the Albanian government to act decisively in the fight against corruption and organised crime and on the commitment to a comprehensive judicial reform as well as on the assessment of the progress made in these areas. “I am encouraged by the reform efforts. The findings of our report present a solid argument for the decision of the Member States about the candidate status,” Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said after the adoption.
The Report was discussed during the High Level Dialogue and this is what Commissioner Füle said to the media afterwards:
‘Good afternoon, we just held the third round of the High Level Dialogue on Key Priorities. But let me start by describing a broader context:
The Thessaloniki conference two weeks ago, the Vienna conference yesterday underlined the continued importance of the enlargement. And I emphasised at both that the enlargement has been and is one of the priorities of the Commission.
On the bilateral side there is also clear dynamics in our relations: we had previous round of High Level Dialogue in March. In April the Prime Minister was in Brussels, in May we had the Association Council together and June will bring an important decision of the EU Member States about the candidate status for Albania.
- This is the bigger picture in which I am bringing a report here that the Commission adopted some two hours ago. We prepared it for the Member States and it covers primarily recent progress on judicial reform, the fight against corruption and organized crime. However it is not – as reported by some media – a Progress report, that comes only once a year in October. And it was not postponed. This June report was adopted in a normal procedure according to the plan.
- Based on our findings we confirm – beyond any doubt, with no conditionality or reservations – the recommendation that the Member States should grant Albania candidate status.
- We have based this recommendation on the continued political will to act decisively in the fight against corruption and organised crime and on the commitment to a comprehensive judicial reform as well as on our assessment of the progress made in these areas and the actions taken by Albania since the last Progress Report.
- I am encouraged by the commitment demonstrated by Albania and by its past and on-going reform efforts. I see a solid argument for a positive decision by the Member States. Current commitment and efforts need to continue and intensify beyond the June Council, to guarantee irreversibility of reforms, in particular in the rule of law. These reforms need to be inclusive, coherent and result-oriented.
- In this respect let me make three points:
First – I welcome last week’s adoption of the Roadmap on Key Priorities by the Albanian government. This is an important document setting out government’s plan and structure of further EU-related reforms and it could bring Albania eventually to the next stage of the enlargement process.
I also welcome the intention of the Government to establish and hold soon the first session of the National Council of European Integration to bring all the stakeholders on EU- related issues together. Inclusiveness and cooperation is essential for the success of your integration ambitions.
Second – In this context I need to tell you that the on-going confrontational political climate damages Albania’s image and may hinder the reform process. Both government and opposition must show moderation and interact constructively in a compromise-based approach.
Third – on the hunger strike of dismissed officials: I am aware of it and see it with concern. I am calling on hunger strikers not to put their health and lives at risk. We are following those issues closely and raise it regularly with the government and we will keep on doing so.
Finally, I firmly believe that Albania’s future is within the EU and I remain strongly convinced of Albania’s capacity to tackle its EU integration challenges. We remain committed to work together with Albania and help the country in its EU integration process.