The 12th Subcommittee meeting on Justice, Freedom and Security between the EU and Albania took place on 30 June and 1 July 2020. Representatives from the European Commission and the Albanian authorities discussed the most recent developments in the area of judicial reform, fundamental rights, anti-corruption, asylum and migration, money laundering, fight against organised crime, drug trafficking and counter-terrorism. 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 Ms Fjoralba Caka, Deputy Minister of Justice.
The Commission welcomed that progress on vetting has continued throughout the lockdown due to Covid-19, and that hearings have fully resumed in June 2020. It acknowledged the progress achieved in other key justice reform areas, including the appointment of the General Prosecutor, the High Justice Inspector as well as members of the High Court and the Constitutional Court. Further appointments to the Constitutional Court should proceed with no delay to ensure its full functioning. It underlined that any revision of the Justice Appointments Council procedures should have due regard to its independence. The Commission also welcomed that the Specialised Prosecution Office against Corruption and Organised Crime has started operating. Concerning fundamental rights, the Commission welcomed the adoption of the Law on the finalisation of transitional ownership processes and stressed the need to ensure its implementation. It also called for the adoption of the remaining secondary legislation on the protection of national minorities. The anti-defamation package should also be reconsidered in line with the recommendations of the recent Venice Commission Opinion.
The Commission stressed the need for continuous efforts in the fight against corruption at all levels and the fight against organised crime. It acknowledged the concrete results achieved to tackle the cultivation and trafficking of cannabis and welcomed the intensified police operations, which require judicial follow up.
Albania should continue to make progress on the implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plan. The Commission welcomed Albania’s first report on the progress in completing the priority actions set out in the counter-terrorism arrangement with the EU. The Commission welcomed the concrete efforts made to improve dialogue and cooperation with the EU countries most affected by unfounded asylum applications of Albanian nationals. Albania and the Commission agreed that Albania should continue to ensure effective cooperation and work closely with Member States of destination.