TIRANA, 30 March 2016
1) Prime Minister Edi Rama and Commissioner Johannes Hahn chaired the sixth meeting of the High Level Dialogue (HLD) on the key priorities between Albania and the European Commission on 30 March 2016. The plenary session included the participation of government Ministers, as well as of members of the opposition
2) Commissioner Hahn praised the steady progress made by Albania in the policy areas covered under the five key priorities for the opening of accession negotiations.
3) The Commissioner welcomed the continued implementation of the Law on Civil Servants and invited Albania to further improve the recruitment procedures. He welcomed the country’s preparation for the entry into force of the Code of Administrative Procedure and called for the further strengthening of the preparatory measures
4) He further welcomed the progress on the reform of the justice system, including the work carried out by the high level group of experts, the drafting of the constitutional amendments on the reorganisation and functioning of the justice system, and the close involvement of the Venice Commission in the reform process. The Commissioner encouraged the authorities to reach agreement in line with the Venice Commission’s opinion and highlighted the importance of completing a comprehensive, inclusive and consistent justice reform process, which is essential to increase public trust in the judicial system and fight against organised crime and corruption. The Commissioner underlined that the reform of the justice system is key to further forward movement on Albania’s EU accession process. He called on all involved to work on the necessary compromises, in line with European standards, hence demonstrating full support to this essential reform. He stressed the importance of ensuring the implementation of the reform.
5) Commissioner Hahn encouraged Albania to demonstrate further progress with a view to establishing a solid track record of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in the fight against corruption and organised crime at all levels, and to ensure a proper follow-up to the high number of cases referred to the prosecution by the High Inspectorate for Declaration and Audit of Assets and Prevention of Conflict of Interest. The Commissioner welcomed the concrete results achieved in the fight against narcotic cultivation and drug trafficking, and underlined that cooperation between law enforcement agencies needs to be further strengthened in order to effectively dismantle criminal networks.
6) Regarding the enforcement of human rights, the Commissioner encouraged Albania to step up efforts on Roma and Egyptians’ inclusion, including through the effective implementation of the National Action Plan on Integration of Roma and Egyptian Communities, and to develop policy guidelines for cases of evictions that are in line with international standards. The Commissioner encouraged Albania to ensure the enforcement of property rights and to make further progress in the process of property registration, restitution and compensation. The Commissioner stressed the importance of establishing a dedicated juvenile justice system in line with international standards and best practices. He welcomed that this reform was tackled in the framework of the overall justice reform.
7) Finally, the Commissioner welcomed the establishment of the National Council for European Integration (NCEI) and encouraged all members to continue investing in it so that it can be a real instrument to promote dialogue on EU integration.
8) Prime Minister Edi Rama confirmed his government’s commitment to further strengthen the considerable progress achieved in EU-related reforms, in particular to continue the implementation of reforms in the area of the rule of law, including anti-corruption policy, judicial reform, and fight against organised crime. Prime Minister Edi Rama underlined that the adoption of key legislation for the comprehensive justice reform is instrumental towards the next step in Albania’s EU accession process, will lay the ground for further work to be carried out in the framework of the negotiation of chapters 23 and 24 and will have a transformative effect also on the fight against organised crime and corruption. He confirmed the firm commitment of the Albanian government to the implementation of the legislation on justice reform, in the framework of the negotiation of chapters 23 and 24. The Albanian authorities provided an update on planned actions for further addressing the five key priorities.
9) The Albanian government confirmed its commitment to a constructive and sustainable political dialogue with the opposition, which is vital for the sustainability of the reform process.
10) It was agreed that Albania will provide reports on a regular basis on the implementation of the five key priorities to open accession negotiations.
11) The Commission will continue to provide support to Albania for the fulfilment of the requirements for the opening of accession negotiations.