BRUSSELS – The Council welcomes the steady progress made by Albania in addressing the key priorities for the opening of accession negotiations, in particular in public administration reform and in preparations for a thorough reform of the judicial system and encourages Albania to continue with its efforts.
The Council recalls that the opening of accession negotiations will be considered by the European Council, in line with established practice, once the Commission has assessed that Albania has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria. Recalling its earlier Council conclusions, including those of June 2014, the Council reiterates that Albania will need to meet the five key priorities for the opening of accession negotiations, and that the Commission is invited to report, in addition to its 2016 Report, in a comprehensive and detailed manner, on Albania’s progress on the key priorities.
The Council also recalls that a sustained, comprehensive and inclusive implementation of the key priorities has to be ensured. The Council notes that further efforts on these key priorities will be required, in particular the adoption of the judicial reform package as well as further progress with a view to establishing a solid track record of pro-active investigations, prosecutions and final convictions at all levels in the fight against corruption and organised crime, including the fight against arms and drug trafficking. The Council underlines that judicial reform is a key to further forward movement on Albania’s EU accession process and could be transformative for other reforms. At the same time, the Council reiterates the need for effective legislative and policy measures to reinforce the protection of human rights and anti-discrimination policies, including the equal treatment of all minorities and access to rights for persons belonging to them throughout Albania, as well as to implement property rights.
The Council looks forward to adoption and implementation of legislation on the exclusion of criminal offenders from public office, which should enhance citizens’ trust in their political representatives and public institutions. It reiterates that Albania should pursue economic reforms aimed at increasing competitiveness and encourages Albania to continue to address the high level of informality in the economy and improve the business and investment environment, where further efforts are needed.
The Council underlines that constructive and sustainable dialogue between the government and the opposition on EU-related reforms will be vital for progress towards the EU.
The Council welcomes Albania’s continued constructive engagement in regional cooperation and underlines the importance of ensuring good neighbourly relations, which remain essential. The Council also appreciates Albania’s continued full alignment with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.