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European Union External Action

Albania and the EU

Albania is a candidate country following the Brussels European Council of June 2014.

The granting of candidate status was the result of Albania's reform efforts in recent years and acknowledgement of the EU for the efforts made and the progress achieved on Albania's accession road. The decision also provides encouragement to continue with existing reforms and embark on new reforms necessary to prepare Albania for the start of the accession negotiations later on. 

A constructive and sustainable political dialogue will remain essential to consolidate and continue reforms. Candidate status does not mean that the EU will automatically start accession negotiations with Albania, which is a subsequent, separate step in the EU integration process, for which additional progress, in five key priorities, is required.

The candidate status nevertheless raises the relationship between Albania and the EU to a higher level: Albania will now receive invitations to Council meetings open to candidate countries. Its access to and cooperation with EU agencies will be easier — for example its participation in the Fundamental Rights Agency as an observer. Joint Committees between Albania and the Committee of the Regions as well as the Economic and Social Committee might also be set up.

The way forward

The European Commission will continue to work closely together with Albania to support its reforms and prepare it for the next step in the integration process, namely the opening of accession negotiations. The opening of negotiations depends on further concrete and sustainable reforms in Albania; agreement from all EU countries is also required.

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement was signed with Albania in June 2006 and entered into force in April 2009. It supersedes the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related aspects, which entered into force in December 2006. From an economic perspective, Albania’s EU candidate status (2014) will encourage foreign investments and, as a result, lead to job creation.

As a candidate country, Albania will continue to profit from EU funds under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) in order to carry out comprehensive reforms and strategic investments, and will benefit from the participation in EU programmes.

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are core values of the European Union. In view of the country’s European perspective, human rights and the protection of minorities play a central role in EU-Albania relations. The role of EU Delegation to Albania is to continue promoting fundamental rights and supporting their advocates. In this regard, the EU Delegation has three main missions:

Monitor the human rights situation
The EU Delegation collects, verifies and shares information to identify human rights violations, in cooperation with civil society organisations dealing with human rights. It maintains an active dialogue with the Albanian authorities on human rights protection and cooperates with other relevant international organisations, in particular UN, OSCE, and the Council of Europe, in promoting international norms and standards.

Maintain a permanent dialogue with human rights defenders
The EU Delegation consults and involves human rights defenders in issues related to human rights. It informs and assists them on the financial resources available and the means of applying for them. The EU Delegation is focused in understanding their needs to help shape EU financial assistance, and stresses the need for further cooperation among human rights defenders. The EU Delegation provides its political support to relevant activities and initiatives organized by the human rights defenders. In addition, the EU Delegation supports the work of national bodies for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Delegation encourages the Albanian authorities to guarantee a favourable environment for human rights defenders and to further involve civil society organisations in the policy-making process.

Provide support to civil society organisations
The EU Delegation provides recognition and support to civil society actors actively working for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Albania, including funding opportunities and public awareness activities. In this regard, the EU Delegation provides financial support to civil society organisations under a number of instruments. Information on funding opportunities in the field of human rights and strengthening of civil society is regularly published on the website of the EU Delegation.

Human rights focal point/ EU liaison officer on human rights defenders:
delegation-albania@eeas.europa.eu 

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