EU says that the opening of negotiations will be considered once Albania meets all the criteria

EU says that the opening of negotiations will be considered once Albania meets all the criteria

Tirana, December 17, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

European Union is determined for Albania’s negotiations for accession to start once the European Commission makes sure that the criteria have been met.

This was part of the conclusions on Albania following the meeting of the EU Council of Ministers. Ministers of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs said that it’s necessary to have political dialogue in order to meet the criteria for accession.

“Albania cannot make progress in the criteria that it must deliver, without having constructive and sustainable dialogue between majority and opposition”, read the conclusions of the EU minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs on Albania.

This dialogue is considered as vital for the progress of the country toward the EU.

The delivery of the 5 criteria

The conclusions on Albania of the meeting of the EU Council of Ministers made it clear that Albania must do more in order to deliver the criteria.

“After being granted the EU candidate status, Albania still has many challenges to address”, read the conclusions of the ministers, referring to the five conditions of the European Commission for the opening of accession talks.

Albania is required to continue economic reforms in order to increase competition, create a friendly business climate, consolidate the fiscal system, reduce unemployment and the high level of informal economy.

As far as the administrative reform is concerned, the Council requires the Albanian government to increase professionalism and not allow politics to influence the public administration.

The second request relates to the need to increase the independence, responsibility and efficiency of the justice system.

“The reform in the justice system must be done in close collaboration with the Venice Commission”, read the conclusions.

The strengthening of the fight against corruption and organized crime is the third criteria.

“There must be more proactive investigations and concrete results in the fight against corruption and organized crime”, read the conclusions.

The improvement of human rights and anti-discriminating policies, are part of the fourth criterion of the EU. This also includes the appeal addressed by Brussels to the Albanian government to resolve the issue of properties.

The last EU criteria relates to the media. The Council of Ministers requires Albania to solve as soon as possible the problems relating to the freedom of speech and media, by strengthening the independence of the regulatory authority of media and public service.

Albania launched the process for EU accession in 1992 and since that time, this progress has moved forward very slowly. This has led to a fall of the number of people who want the accession of the country in the EU.

While from 1992 until 2000, polls suggested that 98 % of Albanians were in favor of EU accession, this figure then went down to 80% and in the recent years, polls show that this figure is 60 to 70%.

Some explain this fall with the disappointment with the delays in the process, but also two other factors:

The first one is the economic crisis that has affected the EU for years and the fall of Brussels’ desire for enlargement.

The second one relates to the liberalization of the visa regime with the EU countries since 2010. For many Albanians, freedom of movement was very important. /ibna/