The 9th Subcommittee meeting on Justice, Freedom and Security between the EU and Albania took place on 28 April in Brussels. Representatives from the European Commission and the Albanian authorities discussed the most recent developments in the area of rule of law. The meeting was co-chaired by Ms Michela Matuella, Head of Unit for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Directorate General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, and Ms Eralda Çani, Deputy Minister of European Integration, Ministry of European Integration.
The meeting offered an opportunity to take stock of the progress achieved by Albania in the past year, in particular with regard to the implementation of the justice system reform, the fight against corruption, organised crime, including drug trafficking, police cooperation, asylum and migration, border management and visa policy, counter-terrorism, and fundamental rights.
Commission representatives recalled the main findings of the Albania report 2016, and Albania provided an update on the subsequent developments. The Commission welcomed the extensive legislative work to address a number of identified shortcomings, including the adoption of the juvenile justice code, as well as the adoption of the action plan against cannabis cultivation and trafficking 2017/2020 and stressed the importance of creating the conditions for its effective implementation. The Commission emphasised in particular that the implementation of the justice reform, including the carrying out of the vetting process, is at the core of the Commission conditional recommendation for the opening of accession negotiations. Focus must be maintained on all areas covered by the five key priorities for the opening of accession negotiations. Work towards establishing a solid track record of proactive investigations, prosecutions and final convictions in the fight against corruption and organised crime should be continued.
The Commission expressed concern over the flow of manifestly unfounded asylum applications and urged the Albanian authorities to step up its efforts in dealing with this issue.