Ana Pisonero, Spokesperson for Neighbourhood and Enlargement has provided further clarification on the ‘15 conditions’ issue regarding the opening of Albanian EU accession talks and the first Intergovernmental Conference.
She said that while “these are not 15 conditions”, the Council have clearly indicated a number of matters that need to be addressed before the conference.
“The March Council conclusions have clearly indicated what Albania needs to do before the first intergovernmental conference. This relates to the adoption of the electoral reform, ensuring transparent financing of political parties and electoral campaigns, ensuring the continued implementation of the judicial reform. Albania should also further strengthen the fight against corruption and organised crime.”
She added that tackling the phenomenon of unfounded asylum applications and ensuring repatriations and amending the media law in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission were also “important priorities”.
Pinsonero said that the negotiating framework will reflect a number of issues that Albania will need to keep addressing in the following period as a part of the negotiations process.
So while the EU spokesperson said there are not ‘15 conditions’ as such, there are a number of matters laid out in the Council conclusions that must be addressed before the intergovernmental conference.
The official decision from the Council of the European Union on the Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process, dated 25 March 2020, states:
“Prior to the first intergovernmental conference, Albania should adopt the electoral reform fully in accordance with OSCE/ODHIR recommendations, ensuring transparent financing of political parties and electoral campaigns, ensure the continued implementation of the judicial reform, including ensuring the functioning of the Constitutional Court and the High Court, taking into account relevant international expertise including applicable opinions of the Venice Commission, and finalise the establishment of the anti-corruption and organised crime specialised structures. Albania should also further strengthen the fight against corruption and organised crime, including through cooperation with EU Member States and through the action plan to address the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. Tackling the phenomenon of unfounded asylum applications and ensuring repatriations and amending the media law in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission remain important priorities.
It also states that the negotiating framework must reflect that Albania has successfully addressed all five key priorities (which have further sub-priorities) which include the following:
“The initiation of criminal procedures against judges and prosecutors accused of criminal conduct during the vetting process, initiation of proceedings against those accused of vote-buying, a sound track record regarding the fight against corruption and organised crime at all levels, including initiation of proceedings and completion of first proceedings against high ranking public officials and politicians, tangible progress regarding the reform of public administration, implementation of the reform of the electoral law as well as a final decision on the lawfulness of the local elections of 30 June 2019, as well as further progress in the adoption of the remaining implementing legislation related to the 2017 framework law on the protection of national minorities, the adoption of the law on the population census in accordance with the Council of Europe recommendations, and the advancement of the process of registration of properties.”
On 19 June, the European Parliament voted to include an amendment in the resolution on the opening of negotiations with Albania. It states:
“[The European Parliament] emphasizes the 15 conditions set by the Council of the European Union that Albania must have met before convening the first Intergovernmental Conference with the Member States.