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European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
Speech on Albania in the Plenary Session of the European Parliament
European Parliament/ Strasbourg
12 December 2012
Mr Chairman, Honourable Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank the Parliament, and in particular the rapporteur, Mr Chountis, for his excellent report on Albania.
I welcome the report's support for Albania's European perspective and the acknowledgement of the potential of the European integration process as a major driving force for reforms and cross-party political cooperation in the country.
The report is largely in line with the assessment and recommendations made by the Commission in its Enlargement Package, and it strikes the right balance between the recognition of the achievements made by Albania and the emphasis on continuing the implementation of reforms in all areas under the 12 key priorities identified in the Commission's 2010 Opinion on Albania's application for membership of the European Union.
Let me turn to the 2012 Commission Progress Report on Albania. This year's Report reflects a new situation in the country which stems from the implementation of the November 2011 political agreement between government and opposition. This agreement marked the end of the political stalemate and paved the way for stronger cross-party co-operation which made a number of important reforms possible in the areas under the key priorities of the Opinion.
Taking this progress into account, the Commission recommended granting candidate country status to Albania, subject to completion of key measures in the areas of judicial and public administration reform and the finalisation of the revision of the rules of procedure of parliament.
We have been clear on what Albania needs to do to continue progressing on its European integration path. Unfortunately, the country's political leaders have not always been able to consistently place European Union integration at the top of their political agenda and have not always been willing to make the necessary political compromises that cross-party support for fundamental reforms evidently requires. The necessary conditions are still outstanding so we need to continue encouraging our Albanian friends in government and opposition to focus on the European Union integration process. Yesterday´s Council Conclusions reinforce this message.
Beyond the key short-term measures I have just mentioned, Albania faces many challenges, particularly in the area of the rule of law, which, as underlined in your Resolution, is at the centre of the Commission's approach to enlargement. Ownership of the reform process and political maturity are essential in this respect.
Albania will need to build on what it has already achieved and consolidate and sustain a constructive political dialogue. This is essential if it is to continue delivering on reforms. Albania will also need to provide further evidence and demonstrate concrete results in fighting corruption, money laundering and organised crime. The successful conduct of Parliamentary elections in June 2013 will be an essential element for Albania's European Union integration perspective.
We share your view on Albania's good neighbourly relations and constructive contribution to regional stability. These are essential elements of the European integration process. We need to send a strong message encouraging Albania to continue with its constructive regional stance, underlining to its political leaders the importance of clear messages promoting cooperation and good neighbourly relations.
Let me conclude by thanking you, Honourable Members, for your continued support, which is essential to the enlargement process in general and to Albanian efforts. I look forward to the debate.