Representatives from the European Commission and Albania met in Brussels on 6 December 2019 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 Ms. Ingrid Jenezova from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, and for Albania by Mr. Sokol Dedja, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs.
Regarding the bilateral trade balance of agricultural and fishery products, the Commission noted the increase in exports from both sides during the last year, while trade in processed agricultural products decreased in 2018.
The Commission welcomed the efforts of the Albanian authorities in the implementation of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance for Rural Development (IPARD - the EU-funded rural development programme), and emphasised the need to speed-up the processes related to economic sustainability of projects, building up capacities of advisory services to assist potential beneficiaries, further strengthen the capacities of the Managing Authority and IPARD Agency, and continue to ensure its implementation in a transparent manner.
The Commission invited Albania to complete and make fully functional the animals register and to establish the farmer’s register. Both registers are needed for the efficient implementation of IPARD, as well as for the requirements established under the legislative framework of the veterinary policy. Albania should provide the time schedule of completing these registers in 2020. Furthermore, the Commission invited Albania to continue working on the consolidation of the land - including establishing a cadastre - which are essential for implementing some important aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In this context, the Commission stressed the importance of starting the preparatory work for the next Census of Agriculture Holdings (CAH).
The Commission encouraged Albania to prepare a national food safety policy and implementation plan aligned to EU standards, and ensure a sufficient administrative capacity, which is essential to allow a correct and harmonised implementation, as well as to ensure full traceability along the entire food chain.
In the fisheries sector, the Commission invited Albania to continue implementing the recommendations of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and to reactivate the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), which has not been operational since March 2017. Albania was also invited to improve the administrative capacity in the fishery sector.