Albania receives green light for negotiations with EU

Commission recommends negotiations on
Stabilisation and Association Agreement with

The potential upgrading of Albania to the Association and
Stabilisation status, which would give this country the
prospect of EU membership, poses the question of whether
other Balkans countries, in particular Croatia, should be
kept in the same group. The EU and Croatia concluded an
Association and Stabilisation Agreement on 14 May 2001.

Some EU diplomats believe that Croatia
should now rapidly advance to candidate country status.
Croatian government representatives insist that their
country should not be caught up in a “convoy” situation
with Albania and other Balkan countries, having to wait for
all of them to fulfil the criteria for EU candidacy before
applying for membership.

The Commission stresses that Albania is
not yet in position to meet the obligations of a
Stabilisation and Association Agreement. However, the
perspective of such an agreement could help the country to
strengthen its administrative capacity and speed up the
necessary political and economic reforms.

The Commission is especially concerned
by Albania’s widespread lack of capacity to implement its
own laws and international obligations, by the inadequacy
of the judiciary and the prevalence of corruption. It
stresses that there will be a need to provide ongoing
support to Albania throughout the negotiating and
transition periods, particularly with a view to
strengthening administrative capacity.

The Commission intends to help Albania,
one of the poorest countries in Europe, meet its reform
goals through the new CARDS programme (Community Assistance
for Reconstruction, Democratisation and Stabilisation),
which is designed to support the priorities of the
Stabilisation and Association process. It will also urge
Member States to help Albania through their bilateral aid
programmes, and other donors to channel assistance to
priority areas.


The European Commission on 6 June concluded that it is
appropriate to launch negotiations for a Stabilisation and
Association Agreement with Albania. A report on
preparations for the negotiation of a Stabilisation and
Association Agreement, adopted by the Commission, says that
the prospect of opening these negotiations with Albania
would help this Balkan country to "maintain the momentum of
recent political and economic reform", and would "encourage
Albania to continue its constructive and moderating
influence in the region".


The EU Nice Summit opened the door to five Balkans
countries - Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and Macedonia - by offering them the
prospect of joining the Union. The EU introduced a new form
of co-operation agreements for these countries, the
so-called Stabilisation and Association Agreements, whose
objective is to foster co-operation in the region,
liberalise trade with the EU and prepare the ground for
subsequent integration in the EU.


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