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European Commission

Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Albania has delivered and so should the EU

2013 progress report on Albania, European Parliament Plenary, Strasbourg

10 December 2013

Chairman, Honourable Members,

I would like to thank the Parliament, and the rapporteur, Mr Vuljanic, for his excellent report on Albania. I welcome its findings and recommendations, which are very much in line with our 2013 Progress Report. In particular I welcome the clear support of this house for our recommendation to grant candidate status to Albania.

2013 has been a good year for Albania's European Union integration:

First, the government and opposition cooperated to adopt a number of important legal acts in parliament, including the three measures that were required for the granting of candidate country status.

Second, the parliamentary elections in June were orderly and competitive and were followed by a smooth transfer of power.

Third, the 2013 Progress Report underlined a number of important developments confirming progress towards meeting the Copenhagen political criteria for European Union membership and addressing reforms in the key priorities as identified by the Council in its 2012 conclusions on Albania.

Fourth, the first meeting of the High Level Dialogue on the Key Priorities with Albania was held in November, providing valuable support for key reforms.

The assessment of the Commission is that all this merits candidate status, hence the unconditional recommendation made in the 2013 Enlargement package.

We want Albania to continue delivering and we see the granting of candidate status as a further incentive for the country to continue its reform efforts. We expect continued follow-up and delivery of results.

The support for Albania’s European Union integration runs across the entire country. Government and opposition alike have confirmed their commitment to European Union-related reforms.

I am impressed by the way the new government is prioritising its efforts in the fight against corruption and organised crime, and I am equally impressed by the results achieved in the months since it has taken office, which confirm the positive trend established earlier.

Granting candidate status is an important step, not only for encouraging Albania to pursue the far reaching reforms required, but also for the credibility of the European Union which set clear conditions for obtaining candidate status at its 2012 Council.

Enlargement policy is only credible when both sides live up to their side of the bargain. Albania has delivered and so should we.

Closing remarks

Chairman, Honourable Members,

In recent weeks the Albanian government has taken numerous initiatives to present its programme and its initial results in Member States capitals and in meetings with the European institutions – in some cases accompanied by an opposition representative, which clearly underlines the commitment of both sides to inclusiveness. I am very much appreciate these efforts.

This is one of the reasons why I have appealed to the European Union Member States to take Albania's additional efforts and results into account when discussing about granting candidate status to Albania.

I would like to underline that Albania still faces many challenges and we are not recommending opening of accession negotiations. Our Report makes clear that there are a number of outstanding recommendations to be met before such a step could be envisaged.

But we need to firmly anchor Albania on its European Union-integration path. I strongly believe that granting candidate status to Albania would send an encouraging signal to all its citizens that Albania's future is within Europe. It would help to further consolidate the country's engagement on European integration, to provide a stimulus to pursue necessary reforms and to better face challenges such as the difficult economic situation. I also strongly believe that it would have a positive influence on the whole region.

Thank you for your attention.

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