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Brussels, 12 November 2013
EU-Albania: After the 1st session of High Level Dialogue
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle visited Tirana to launch a High Level Dialogue on the Key Priorities with Albania, which is to provide valuable support for key reforms. The High Level Dialogue will serve as a tool to structure EU-Albania co-operation and to help the country maintain focus and consensus on EU integration enhancing its chances for success.
The meeting of the High Level Dialogue reviewed progress to date as regards reforms in the rule of law and the fight against corruption and organised crime, in particular the actions undertaken by Albania during the past few months as well as Albania's plans in this area.
Following the 1st session of the High Level Dialogue at joint press conference with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Commissioner Füle said:
'It has been a good year for Albania and for its efforts in the EU accession process. It has been a good year in delivering on free and fair elections and on constructive transfer of power. This also allowed us to clearly confirm in the recent Progress report that Albania delivered on the conditionalities related to the candidate status. It allowed us to recommend to the Member States to grant candidate status and I hope that they will take this recommendation - and a lot of additional information from this meeting - very seriously when they will make the important political decision on the candidate status for Albania.
What is European's Commission reaction to more efforts from Albanian side? More engagement on our side. Albania and its citizens should be given clear sense of the road towards the EU and to see concrete results on this road. That is why we have launched together the High Level Dialogue on Key Priorities, where we talk about five issues which stand between Albania and our recommendation to open accession negotiations.
I expected a good start and good discussion, but it was actually excellent start and excellent discussion with commitment of all those who participated in the meeting. We have spent almost three hours talking about substance and format and making a number of operational conclusions. Let me describe five of the most important:
1) we have been able to define the objective of High Level Dialogue to support the integration process of Albania It aims to structure our cooperation and help Albania to maintain the focus and consensus on EU integration.
2) we have confirmed the importance of inclusiveness and transparency for our approach and the Prime Minister already refered to the fact that the chairwoman of the EU Integration Committee Ms Bregu played a constructive role in today's meeting. We have agreed to strengthen the element of inclusiveness of the High Level Dialogue.
3) we are not going to meet from time to time just to talk, we have agreed concrete roadmap , or Action Plan, for next meetings, on how Albanian authorities would like to deliver on the 5 key priorities, of course with our help and assistance
4) we appreciated the intention of the government to form a platform for National Dialogue on EU integration involving not only opposition but also the Civil Society and we have made clear that such a platform will consolidate further the nationwide consensus on the EU agenda based on the expertise and energy within the Albanian society.
5) we have also agreed that later in winter, next year, we will have another meeting. In general we concluded that between now and the next Progress report there will be four rounds if this Dialogue, although the number really depends on the topics of our agenda and wishes of both sides.
And one more important remark:
I appreciated specifically the detailed information both in writing and verbally on the actions of Albania's government
in the area of fight agains corruption and organised crime. These are the two areas where we mentioned the efforts of the government need to continue so that the EU Member States fully embrace the idea of granting the candidate status to this country. With the approach represented at the first session of the High Level Dialogue I am
confident that the European Commission will have substantial arguments to share with the Member States.'