Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for your presence for this press conference.
Today we are launching the public consultations for the Annual Report 2020 on Albania.
As you know, every year, the European Commission adopts those strategic documents for the entire enlargement area. It assesses the progress of each country and sets out the way forward and recommendations for the coming year.
This report from the Commission to the Council will be published in Spring 2020.
So we find ourselves now in the preparatory phase of what will be an essential document for the future of Albania. The European Commission collects information from the Member States, Civil Society Organisations, International Organisations, businesses, EU agencies and missions, among many others. All of this information is collected, checked, cross-referenced and substantiated here in Tirana and then in Brussels.
We are holding two days of Public Consultations because the European Commission values greatly civil society's input to its enlargement policy. Civil society organisations play a crucial role in giving a voice to all Albanian citizens and to hold public institutions accountable. They are essential partners to the Delegation here.
Of course, this year the public consultation comes at a special moment for the enlargement policy. Last week, the European Commission adopted a new methodology for the accession negotiations. I wanted to take some time to explain to the Albanians what the new methodology means and what it changes to processes like the annual report or the negotiations.
The European Council of October, unfortunately, did not result in opening accession negotiations, as we had hoped for.
This is why the European Commission has tried to address the root causes of the failure and make the process more predictable. We want to re-establish solid trust and mutual confidence between the Western Balkans, the European Union and our Member States.
With the new methodology, the leaders of the European Union will have at least one annual debate about the progress that the Western Balkans countries are making.
The other element in the political steer is that we will include the Member States more when it comes to monitoring of the progress and drafting recommendations.
Predictability means that we have to clearly define the conditions so that everyone knows what is required and that there can be no ambiguity on what the candidate countries are judged.
This is why we will flash out in more detail all the criteria and conditions we ask for these countries to achieve. And this is why we want to involve all the Member States in the monitoring of these achievements.
The process will also be made more dynamic by the grouping of the accession chapters. We are going to group together the themes that belong together. It means also that these negotiations will be much more comprehensive and not divided into small disconnected policy areas.
Finally, there is a very strong call from Member States that we need to be able to also reverse the negotiations. When there is no progress or when there is backsliding, clearly we also have to apply similar measures. Concretely, it means that we have to make it clear that the European Union can suspend or stop the negotiations if need be.
So this was for our reforming the methodology, which we hope will be welcomed by Member States and will lead to the opening of accession negotiations still before the Zagreb Summit.
The opening of negotiations and, in general, the EU future of the country is an objective that is shared by the huge majority of the population. This brings me to the last part of this press conference.
I would like to share with you the results of our latest survey on the perception of the European Union by Albania