European Council Imposes New Conditions on Albania

The European has clearly decided against opening accession negotiations with Albania. However, in order to avoid discouraging the country, it has presented it with a new future roadmap and calendar that promises the preemptive approval of the decision by Member States whose decision is determined by their parliaments (Germany and the Netherlands) and, afterwards, the European Council’s approval in its June 2019 meeting.

According to the Council’s draft conclusions, Albania has to meet the following conditions: fight against corruption, organized crime, drug trafficking and production, observing human rights and property rights, and, in a new addition, lowering the number of Albanian immigration to the EU:

The Council positively notes the increased efforts by Albania to put in place effective measures aimed at countering the high flow of manifestly unfounded asylum applications lodged by Albanian citizens to EU Member States and Schengen Associated countries. These measures must be further pursued, along with continued cooperation and dialogue with the most affected countries, until sustained results are achieved.

The Council also attaches particular importance to Albania’s continued efforts in reducing the number of manifestly unfounded asylum applications and also asks the Commission to ensure that this is taken into account.

The Council also stressed the need for Albanian elections to meet the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR:

On elections, the Council attaches particular importance to Albania addressing the outstanding recommendations of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

It also addressed criminal impunity and corruption in high levels of government:

The Council also underlines that Albania needs to intensify its efforts in all these areas and ensure that further tangible results are achieved also in the fight against corruption at high level, as well as in dismantling organised criminal networks.

The establishment of a solid track record of proactive investigations, prosecutions and convictions in the fight against organised crime and corruption, at all levels, remains an essential long-term objective that continues to require further structured and consistent efforts.

The Council underlines the critical need for Albania to further consolidate progress made on judicial reform in particular through the vetting, and to deliver further tangible results in the fight against corruption at all levels and in the fight against organised crime, in particular on the cultivation and trafficking of drugs, maintaining and deepening the current reform momentum. This includes strengthening the track record of proactive investigations, prosecutions and final convictions in the fight against corruption and organised crime, including at high level.

The Council also touched on the issue of waste management in Albania:

The Council encourages Albania to take steps to address the problem of waste management.

Special importance was given to free and competitive trade:

The Council reiterates that Albania should step up reforms aimed at increasing competitiveness and tackling the informal economy.

The Council encourages Albania to further improve the business and investment environment, including ensuring enforcement of property rights, vigorously pursuing fiscal consolidation and strengthening tax administration.

The creation of judicial institutions provided in the Justice Reform was foregrounded:

finalising the establishment of specialised bodies, namely the Special Anti-Corruption and Organised Crime Structure (SPAK) and National Bureau of Investigation [BKH] and Court.