The 10th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association (SA) Committee between Albania and the European Union took place on 14 November 2019 in Brussels. 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 (Commission) and Mr. Sokol Dedja, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs.
The SA Committee took stock of the most important developments of the past year in the areas of rule of law, public administration reform, trade, economic development, agriculture and fisheries, industry and internal market, innovation and culture, social policy, transport, energy and climate change. Implementation of the EU financial assistance was also reviewed.
The Commission welcomed the continuous progress that Albania achieved in all areas and stressed the importance of further pursuing the implementation of the reform efforts, with particular focus on rule of law and the fight against corruption at all levels, and organised crime, including drug cultivation and trafficking. The Commission noted that the number of police operations targeting organised crime groups increased and that important indictments and convictions took place. Due judicial follow up to successful law enforcement operations against crime shall continue, along with targeted efforts against the proceedings of crime. The Commission also stressed that the overall track record of investigations, prosecution and convictions in organised crime and corruption cases must be further strengthened.
Furthermore, the Commission welcomed the good cooperation in addressing common migratory and security challenges, namely through the implementation of the European Border and Coast Guard Status Agreement and the signing of the bilateral arrangement on counter terrorism cooperation.
The Commission commended the efforts related to justice reform, including the pursuit of vetting, and recommended that implementation of all measures continue, particularly through making operational the investigative and judicial chain specialised on the fight against organised crime and corruption. The Commission noted the clarifications and update on the procedure for appointing judges at the Constitutional Court and looks forward to the quorum being re-established for the Court to resume its adjudicating activities as soon as possible.
The Commission took positive note of the efforts taken by the Albania to improve the quality of public services, and strengthen the administration’s capacity to carry out merit-based recruitments. The Commission also highlighted that further efforts are needed in relation to the protection of fundamental rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, vulnerable groups, and the consolidation of property rights.
The Commission reiterated the need for an inclusive political dialogue in the country and underlined in particular the importance of adopting an electoral reform to address the recommendations of OSCE/ODHIR. The Commission and Albania agreed on the importance of continuing to address the phenomenon of unfounded asylum applications, which requires further building close cooperation with Member States of destination. The Commission welcomed and further encouraged Albania’s engagement in regional cooperation, which together with good neighbourly relations is an essential part of Albania's progress on the path towards European integration.