In the report adopted on Thursday, MEPs welcome Albania’s clear commitment to European integration and support the start of the accession negotiations with the EU.

Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs welcomed Albania’s clear strategic focus and commitment to European integration, which is demonstrated by its good neighbourly relations and the continued implementation of accession-related reforms.                                                 In the Committee’s report on the 2019-2020 Commission reports on Albania adopted on Tuesday, MEPs commend the Council’s decision to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, emphasise the importance of the integration process as a catalyst for reform and welcome the support that it enjoys among the Albanian people.             They support the convening of the first intergovernmental conference, which would formally mark the start of accession negotiations with the EU, without further delay. They note that to ensure the accession process is credible, milestones must be accomplished in order to progress towards EU membership. Rival actors are seeking to undermine further integration and the political stability of Western Balkan countries, MEPs underline.

Lasting, in-depth and irreversible reforms

MEPs stress that progress in accession to the EU depends on lasting, in-depth and irreversible reforms across fundamental areas, starting with the rule of law, the effective functioning of democratic institutions and public administration as well as the economy. Judicial reform is key in this regard, as is boosting the fight against corruption and organised crime, along with good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation.                          They urge political leaders to instil confidence by being more transparent and overcoming the lack of dialogue with each other. MEPs express their serious concern about the polarised political climate and lack of sustainable cross-party cooperation that continue to hamper the democratic process.                                                                                 The general elections of 25 April 2021 will be a key moment to consolidate and renew the country’s democratic procedures and structures and to achieve a higher level of political stability, stress MEPs, underlining that free and fair elections are fundamental for EU integration.

The rapporteur Isabel Santos (S&D, PT) said: “This report comes at an important time for Albania. The European Parliament recognises all the progress that has been made towards the first Intergovernmental Conference. I believe this to be a good sign that the efforts made by the Albanian people and all the political actors should continue. I am happy the European Parliament was able to approve this positive report after a very difficult year for Albania, not only because of the pandemic, but also due to the earthquake in November 2019.”                                                                                                                      The report was adopted by 62 votes for, 4 against and one abstention. The vote took place on Thursday, with results announced on Friday.