Western Balkans

Albania and the EU

26/03/2020 - 14:41
EU relations with Country

Albania is a candidate country for EU membership. The European Union decided to open accession negotiations with Albania in March 2020. Albania is working closely with the EU to undertake reforms required for its EU accession path.

Albania is a candidate country following the Brussels European Council of June 2014. In March 2020, the European Union decided to open accession negotiations with Albania

The opening of accession negotiations 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 its accession path. 

A constructive and sustainable political dialogue will remain essential to consolidate and continue reforms.

The opening of negotiations raises the relationship between Albania and the EU to a higher level.

The way forward

The first intergovernmental conferences will be convened as soon as possible after the adoption of the negotiating framework by the Council, following the steps laid out in its Conclusions of 25 March 2020.

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) encourages foreign investments and, as a result, leads to job creation.

As a candidate country, Albania continues to profit from EU funds under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) in order to carry out comprehensive reforms and strategic investments, and benefits 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:

General Documents

                Replies to press queries 


Does IMO support the extension of the vetting process after June 2022 (after the constitutional mandate of vetting first instance institutions expire in June 2022)?

“In line with the monitoring mandate vested upon the IMO by the Constitution of Albania, the IMO considers that it is of paramount importance that all pending vetting cases are finalised in the shortest possible period of time, whilst preserving the consistency and integrity of the process. To achieve this result, a time-limited extension of the constitutional mandate of the members of the Independent Qualification Commission and of the Institution of Public Commissioners is necessary. This would allow the two bodies to finalise all cases in which investigation has started. It falls within the remit of Albanian authorities to define the precise time limits of such extension, in close consultation with the relevant stakeholders, including the Venice Commission.”

20.09.2017 - Deployment in Tirana of IMO long term experts

08.02.2017 - Chair's press points following the constitutive meeting of the IMO Management Board

08.02.2017 - Joint press release announcing the constitution of the IMO Management Board

06.02.2017 - Call for applications to serve on the Vetting Commissions

27.03.2017 - Re-deployment of IMO international observers to Albania

31.03.2017 - Completion of activities by the assessment committee at the Ombudsperson Office

07.04.2017 - The list of potential candidates for the vetting institutions now for consideration by the Assembly of Albania. Review completed by the IMO

02.06.2017 - Handover of recommendation on candidates to lay members of the High Judicial Council, to be appointed amongst ranks of the advocacy


Composition of the IMO Management Board

  1. For the EU, the Board comprises currently three representatives mandated by European Commission in addition to the Chair; these members are the Head of Unit responsible for Albania at the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), the Head of the Rule of Law Section in the Operation Section at the EU Delegation in Tirana, and also the Head of Unit, Interinstitutional and International relations, Directorate General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST).

  2.  For the US Government, the Board currently includes two representatives; these are the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Tirana as representative of the US Department of State; and a member of the Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training Office (OPDAT) in Tirana as representative of the US Department of Justice.

Additional representatives from the EU Delegation and the US Embassy in Albania may participate in discussions of the IMO Management Board when relevant, as non-permanent members, notably when the meetings take place in Albania. Participation of other relevant non-permanent members in the meetings of the IMO Management Board (i.e. relevant experts, IMO international observers or other members from the IMO monitoring teams, representatives from line services at the European Commission, etc.) is foreseen on an ad hoc basis.

The European Commission (DG NEAR) ensures the IMO Board permanent secretariat, a responsibility that is assigned to the Desk Office for justice issues in the unit dealing with Albania.


29.12.2018 - Time for change in the Albanian judiciary: looking back at a year of vetting process - by Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission and Chair of the International Monitoring Operation (IMO).

24.05.2019 - Justice reform and vetting: for the citizens, with the citizens - by Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission and Chair of the International Monitoring Operation (IMO).

01.02.2021 - Moving forward together on the EU integration path - by Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission and Chair of the International Monitoring Operation (IMO).


16.01.2018 - Interview published for the Albanian "Shekulli" Newspaper

09.08.2019 - Voice of America - Interview to Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission and Chair of the International Monitoring Operation (IMO)


Overview of the activity of vetting bodies until 15 June 2021

Decisions pronounced in first instance by the Independent Qualification Commission (IQC)395, out of which

·         143 dismissals[footnote:  following decisions of the Special Appeal Chamber, 3 of such dismissal decisions of the IQC were afterwards modified into confirmations.]

·         166 confirmations in duty[footnote:  Following decisions of the  Special Appeal Chamber, 16 of such confirmation decisions of the IQC were afterwards modified into dismissals.]

·         81 decisions on termination of the vetting proceeding, out of which 60 due to resignation and 21 due to other reasons.

·         2 decisions of suspension from office.  


Appeals filed by the assessees and Public Commissioners (PC)205, out of which

-       151 filed by assesses

-       54 filed by the PC

-       102 of the above appeals are still pending


Decisions of the Appeal Chamber (SAC)102, out of which

-       73 upholding IQC decisions

-       27 deciding total or partial modification/overruling of IQC decisions, among which in particular:

o   on 16 occasions the SAC modified confirmation decisions of the IQC and dismissed the assesses;

o   on 3 occasions the SAC modified dismissal decisions of the IQC and confirmed the assessees in duty.


Final decisions (following exhaustion of national judicial remedies): 269

  • 115 confirmations
  • 73 dismissals
  • 81 terminations (out of which 60 resignations)


Dissenting Opinions

Today, on 21 June 2021, the International Observers of the International Monitoring Operation (IMO) have recommended to the Public Commissioners (PC) to appeal the Independent Qualification Commission’s decision in the case of assessee Elizabeta Imeraj. The International Observers deem that the significant criticalities found in the case impose its review by the Special Appeal Chamber, to ensure the integrity, independence and thoroughness of the vetting process. The IMO Board and its constituent bodies, the U.S. Government and the European Commission, fully support the recommendation of the International Observers.
In line with its role under the Constitution, the IMO has made 18 recommendations for appeal and published two dissenting opinions. The PC has followed all previous recommendations for appeal. The IMO remains committed to its constitutional role to protect and support the integrity of the vetting process through the legal tools at its disposal and continued good cooperation with the vetting bodies.”


Among other functions within the vetting process, the IOs have the right to file dissenting opinions regarding decisions of the IQC and of the Appeal Chamber, pursuant to article 55 VL and F Constitution Annex. Below you find the IMO dissenting opinions filed so far.

Dissenting opinion in the case of Adnand Kososva regarding Independent Qualification Commission's Decision n. 90 on 20.12.2018

Here to link both the Word doc of IMO Dissenting Opinion:

and the IQC decision:

Dissenting opinion in the case of Antoneta Sevdari regarding the Appeal Chamber's Decision n. 6 on 28.2.2019

Here to link both the Word doc of IMO Dissenting Opinion:

and the IQC decision:

Relations with the press


General official IMO correspondence

26.01.2017 - Letter from Director General Christian Danielsson

26.01.2017 - Administrative arrangement - Annex

07.02.2017 - Letter from Director Genoveva Ruiz Calavera

17.02.2017 - Letter by Commissioner Hahn to PM Rama, in reply to the letters from Ministers Gjosha and Vasili regarding the International Monitoring Operation (IMO)

24.02.2017 - Letter from Director Genoveva Ruiz Calavera

01.03.2017 - Explanatory note on the IMO Albania

03.03.2017 - Letter from Director Genoveva Ruiz Calavera to Ombudsman Igli Totozani

07.03.2017 - Letter from Director Calavera to Minister Vasili

07.03.2017 - Explanatory Note

22.03.2017 - Letter from Director Calavera on IMO re-deployement

06.04.2017 - IMO transmission letter to Ombudsman

29.05.2017 - Letter from IMO Chair to Secretary General Shtylla


Editorial Sections: