The key political and administrative reforms needed in Albania are progressing, but have yet to reach a stage at which EU accession negotiations could start, said Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Bosnia and Herzogovina’s recent EU membership application was welcomed by MEPs, in a separate resolution, also voted on Tuesday.
The resolution on Albania, drafted by Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE), says that if it wishes to start EU accession negotiations, it needs first to intensify its reform efforts in key priority areas, such as the rule of law, judicial reforms, the fight against corruption and organised crime, public administration reform and fundamental rights.
Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs remain concerned about widespread corruption in education, healthcare, the judiciary and some other fields. They are also concerned about “widespread self-censorship among journalists, who are sometimes physically obstructed from covering specific events, assaulted, or threatened because of their work”.
The resolution welcomes Albania’s commitment in the fight against radicalisation and terrorism. It commends the country for taking measures to prevent the outflow of foreign fighters to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria and recommends that Albania share more information with EU member states in this regard.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for EU membership, presented on 15 February 2016, and “call on the Council to examine this application at the earliest opportunity”. They also call on the authorities to continue with constitutional, legal and political reforms and make steady progress towards the EU.
The resolution, drafted by Cristian Dan Preda (EPP, RO) condemns the idea of a holding a referendum in Republika Srpska on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state-level judiciary, because, it says, this challenges the cohesion, sovereignty and integrity of the country.
MEPs deplore continued widespread corruption in the country and voices concern about increased pressure placed on the judiciary by political players. The resolution also calls on the authorities to step up their efforts to ensure more effective country-wide cooperation between the police, intelligence and security agencies in the fight against terrorism.
The resolution on Albania was approved by 47 votes to 3, with 4 abstentions. The resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted by 42 votes to 7 with 5 abstentions. The full House will vote on the two resolutions in Strasbourg in April.