After several attempts and the implementation of many reforms, Albania has finally become a European Union candidate state on June 24, 2014, aiming to become an EU member state in the upcoming years. Ministers from the EU Member States have agreed to grant the EU candidate status to Albania, as recommended by the European Commission. The historic decision for Albania was made at the General Affairs Council Meeting in Luxembourg.
Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy declared after the announcement: “Today is a good day for enlargement and a great day for Albania’s EU integration. Albania is one step closer to the European Union; another important milestone on the EU path has been reached. I really welcome the decision of the General Affairs Council to grant candidate status to Albania. I look forward to this decision being endorsed by Heads of States and Government at the European Council later this week. Granting of candidate status is a logical consequence of Albania’s reform efforts. Our report from the beginning of this month and today’s decision of the Ministers is an acknowledgement of the EU for the efforts made and the progress achieved on Albania’s accession road.
At the same time, it should be seen as an encouragement to continue with existing reforms and embarking on new reforms necessary to prepare Albania for the start of the accession negotiations later on. Let me just recall that over recent months Albania has shown concrete action and continued political will to pursue the process of EU-related reforms. The Albanian government has continued to implement and consolidate reform measures in judicial reform, in the fight against corruption and organized crime. The most recent example is the major police operation in Lazarat last week to destroy the cannabis cultivations in the area.
For Albania to further advance its EU-integration path, major challenges still lie ahead. Albania will need to continue and consolidate its systematic approach to reforms, address existing shortcomings and tackle remaining EU-related challenges. To conclude, the granting of candidate status to Albania is a clear testimony that the enlargement process is credible and dynamic and that the EU sticks to its promises and commitments once the partners deliver on their reform homework.”
News source/photo credits: EU Commission