Chairing the Stabilisation and Association Council, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell commended Albania’s determination in the pursuit of its reform agenda and the achievements reached so far, despite the challenges faced through the devastating earthquake in 2019 and the pandemic: “the European Union is Albania’s strongest partner. And we will continue accompanying you on your European path.”
Addressing the political criteria, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell highlighted Albania’s strong commitment to necessary reforms in particular in the area of the rule of law. He stressed the importance of continuing the reform efforts: “Reforms are important in your European efforts but even more importantly, they are key for the modernisation of the country and for the benefit of your people.”
As regards foreign policy, High Representative Josep Borrell commended Albania’s consistent 100% alignment with EU foreign policy positions, acknowledging that this sends a strong signal of Albania’s strategic orientation and commitment to its goal of EU membership and serves as a positive example for the entire region.
In the context of preparing the upcoming parliamentary elections in Albania, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell stressed the need for cooperation among all political parties. “European integration should be a shared national objective, which requires the commitment of all sides to constructive political dialogue.”
While recalling the Council decision of March 2020 to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell stressed that the Stabilisation and Association Council looked forward to holding the first Inter-Governmental Conference as soon as possible after the approval of the Negotiating Framework:
In July 2020 the European Commission presented the draft negotiating frameworks for Albania and North Macedonia to the Member States. Once the Member States have adopted the negotiating frameworks, the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union will present the agreed General EU Position in the first inter-governmental conference with each country, marking the formal start of the accession negotiations.
The 11th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council between the EU and Albania is the first SA Council since the Council decision in March 2020 to open accession negotiations with Albania. It took stock of the relations and progress made in the implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. The meeting taking place in Brussels on 1 March 2021 was chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, Mr Josep Borrell. The Albanian delegation was led by the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr Edi Rama. The Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Mr Olivér Várhelyi, represented the European Commission.