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Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) and Albania (AL) met in Brussels on 14 November 2017 to discuss the level of implementation of the SAA and of approximation of the country legislation to the EU acquis in the field of agriculture and fisheries, including food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues. The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mr. Louis Hersom from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, and for Albania by Ms. Kleopatra Maliqi, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs.
During the meeting, developments in the area of agriculture were discussed. The bilateral trade balance in favour of the EU in the agricultural sector is still important but decreased in 2016. Among the main elements of progress the publication of agricultural census results, the adoption of a framework law on geographical indications and on organic products legislation, as well as on approximation of marketing standards for olive oil were noted. Albania has also strengthened its administrative structures with a view to receiving EU financial support under the rural development component of the EU's Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPARD). A number of challenges remain such as the country's low expenditure for agriculture as well as structural problems, namely the low average farm size and plot fragmentation.
In the areas of food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues, the Commission called on Albania to strengthen its administrative capacity and to reinforce its official controls in all three areas. The Commission reiterated its commitment to assist Albania in fighting lumpy skin disease and rabies but expected a more effective vaccination rate of the cattle population. The Commission also emphasized the need for the country to establish a system for identification and registration of animals and movement controls and an updated animal database. The Commission welcomed the positive developments in the area of laboratory systems.
The Commission emphasised that the Albanian fishery legislation needs to be further aligned with the EU acquis in order to ensure that fishing and aquaculture activities are sustainable and managed in a way consistent with the objectives of achieving economic, social and employment benefits. The Commission called on Albania to strengthen the implementation of recommendations of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), make full use of the FAO AdriaMed regional project and enhance its collaboration with the European Union and the Commission on the Malta MedFish4Ever Declaration on the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries.