Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs welcome the start of accession negotiations with Albania and call on the country to maintain its focus on the EU reform agenda.
In a report adopted on Wednesday by 53 votes in favour, 3 against and 1 abstentions, Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs welcome Albania’s steadfast commitment to EU integration, noting that it is a reflection of the consensus among political parties and the overwhelming support among citizens.
Albania is a reliable foreign policy partner and remains an important geopolitical ally thanks to its efforts to advance regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations, states the report.
MEPs welcome that the government has kept its focus on EU-related reforms, reinforced its coordination structure for European integration and the parliament’s role in the EU integration process by amending the relevant law, and urge decision-makers to work jointly towards meeting the membership criteria by no later than 2030.
MEPs urge the government to intensify its efforts in reinforcing the functioning of the rule of law, judiciary, counter corruption and organised crime. It should ensure media freedom, empower civil society, guarantee fundamental rights and the rights of minorities including the LGBTI+ community, as well as strengthen its cooperation with the EU institutions.
Work on EU reforms together with the opposition and all segments of society
The report stresses that the government needs to further advance the EU reform agenda in cooperation with the opposition and all segments of society. It deplores the enduring political confrontation, disruptive actions and inflammatory rhetoric by high-level politicians and officials, stressing the importance of building a constructive parliamentary culture by fostering consensus between all political actors.
MEPs regret that the main political parties failed to reach an agreement on the electoral reform and call on the Albanian authorities to urgently implement the outstanding changes to the electoral and party financing framework well ahead of the 2025 parliamentary elections.
More efforts needed to fight corruption and organised crime
MEPs point out that more structured and consistent efforts are necessary to fight corruption, including at high-level, and stress the need to tackle the culture of impunity. They call for additional results in countering cybercrime, trafficking in human beings and money laundering.
The report regrets the lack of progress on achieving institutional transparency and the deteriorating situation of freedom of expression and media freedom and calls on the authorities to adopt a legal framework that protects journalists, human rights defenders and other stakeholders from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).
Finally, MEPs note that Albania has been heavily targeted by Russian disinformation and other hybrid attacks, and should strengthen protection of its critical infrastructure, cyber-security, counter-disinformation and energy transition measures.
The rapporteur Isabel Santos (S&D, Portugal) said: “Albania has demonstrated a profound commitment with the integration process by implementing difficult reforms. The result of today’s vote demonstrates the European Parliament’s recognition of those efforts and of Albania’s full alignment with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. It is the acknowledgement of the merit demonstrated by the country in its path towards EU’s accession.”
The report will now be submitted to a vote in the European Parliament as a whole at the plenary session in June.