Accession of Albania to the European Union
Albania is on the current agenda for future enlargement of the European Union (EU). It applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009, and has since June 2014 been an official candidate for accession. Accession talks started in March 2020.
|Albanian EU accession bid|
|Applied||28 April 2009|
|Approved||24 March 2020|
❌ Not Yet Screened
❌ Not Yet Negotiating
❌ Not Yet Ratified by All EU Member States
Politics of Albania
Until 2020, Albania had been receiving €1.2bn of developmental aid from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, a funding mechanism for EU candidate countries.
Officially recognised by the EU as a "potential candidate country" in 2000, Albania started negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in 2003. This was successfully agreed and signed on 12 June 2006, thus completing the first major step toward Albania's full membership in the EU. Albania applied for European Union membership on 28 April 2009.
Following in the steps of countries joining the EU in 2004, Albania has been extensively engaged with EU institutions, and joined NATO as a full member in 2009.
After Albania's application for EU membership, the Council of the European Union asked the European Commission on 16 November 2009 to prepare an assessment on the readiness of Albania to start accession negotiations. On 16 December 2009, the European Commission submitted the Questionnaire on accession preparation to the Albanian government. Albania returned answers to the Commission on 14 April 2010. On 5 December 2013, an MEP meeting recommended to the council to grant Albania candidate status.
The European Commission recommended that the EU open membership talks with Albania in its November 2016 assessment. In June 2018 the European Council agreed on a pathway to starting accession talks with Albania by the end of 2019.
Albania's EU accession is bundled with North Macedonia's EU accession. Albania is given certain pre-conditions for starting the accession negotiations, such as passing reforms in the justice system, a new electoral law, opening trials for corrupt judges and the respect of human rights for its Greek minority.
In May 2019, European Commissioner Johannes Hahn reiterated this recommendation. However, in June the EU General Affairs Council decided to postpone their decision on opening negotiations to October, due to objections from a number of countries including the Netherlands and France. The decision was vetoed again in October. On 25 March 2020, Council of the European Union decided to open accession negotiations, which was endorsed by the European Council the following day.
Chronology of relations with the European Union
|1992||A Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Albania was signed, and Albania became eligible for funding under the EU Phare programme.|
|1997||The EU Council of Ministers established political and economic conditionality for the development of bilateral relations between Albania and the EU.|
|1999||The EU proposed the new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of Southeastern Europe, including Albania. Starting from 1999 Albania benefited from Autonomous Trade Preferences with the EU.|
|2000||Duty-free access to EU market was granted for products from Albania.|
|June 2000||The European Council stated that all the SAP countries are "potential candidates" for EU membership.|
|November 2000||At the Zagreb Summit, the SAP was officially endorsed by the EU and the Western Balkan countries (including Albania).|
|2001||The first year of the new CARDS programme specifically designed for the SAP countries.|
|June 2001||The Commission recommended the undertaking of negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Albania. The Göteborg European Council invited the commission to present draft negotiating directives for the negotiation of a SAA.|
|31 January 2003||The directives for the negotiation of a SAA with Albania were adopted. Commission President Prodi officially launches the negotiations for a SAA between the EU and Albania.|
|June 2003||At the Thessaloniki Summit, the SAP was confirmed as the EU policy for the Western Balkans and the EU perspective for these countries was confirmed (countries participating in the SAP started to be eligible for EU accession and would join the EU once they would become ready).|
|December 2005||The council made the decision on the principles of a revised European Partnership for Albania.|
|12 June 2006||The SAA was signed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg.|
|9 November 2006||The European Commission decided to start visa facilitation negotiations with Albania.|
|13 April 2007||The visa facilitation agreement was signed in Zagreb. The signing EU Commissioner Franco Frattini was quoted saying that this is the first step toward a full abolishment of the visa requirements and the free movement of Albanian citizens in the EU.|
|1 January 2008||The visa facilitation agreement entered into force.|
|7 March 2008||EU Commissioner Franco Frattini while in Tirana opened the dialogue toward the liberalisation of the visa regime between Albania and EU.|
|1 April 2009||The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) entered into force.|
|28 April 2009||Albania formally applied for membership in the European Union.|
|16 November 2009||The Council of the EU asked the European Commission to prepare an assessment on Albania's readiness to start accession negotiations. The Commission submitted the questionnaire on accession preparation to the Albanian government.|
|14 April 2010||Albania submitted answers to the European Commission's questionnaire, but candidacy status was not granted by the EU in December 2010 due to a long-lasting political row in the country.|
|27 May 2010||The European Commission proposed visa free travel for Albania. The adopted proposal enabled citizens of Albania to travel to Schengen countries without needing a short term visa.|
|8 November 2010||The Council of the European Union approved visa-free travel to the Schengen Area for Albanian citizens.|
|15 December 2010||Visa-free access for Albanians to the Schengen area entered into force.|
|10 October 2012||The European Commission recommended that Albania be granted EU candidate status, subject to the completion of key measures in certain areas.|
|August 2012||The Albanian Parliament rejected a proposal to abolish immunity for parliament members, ministers and people in some other official positions. The EU required this to be abolished along with 11 other main issues, so candidate status was further delayed. However, in September 2012 a constitutional amendment was unanimously passed which limited the immunity of parliamentarians.|
|October 2012||The European Commission evaluated the progress of Albania to comply with 12 key conditions to achieve official candidate status and start accession negotiations. The report concluded that if Albania managed to hold a fair and democratic parliamentary election in June 2013, and also implemented the remaining changes to comply with the eight key priorities still not fully met, then the Council of the European Union would recommended granting Albania official candidate status.|
|23 June 2013||Albania held a general election, generally regarded as free and fair.|
|16 October 2013||The European Commission released its annual reports on prospective member states which concluded that the Albanian election was held in an "orderly manner" and that progress had been made in meeting other conditions; as such it recommended granting Albania candidate status.|
|5 December 2013||In an MEP meeting it was recommended that "...the Council should acknowledge the progress made by Albania by granting it candidate status without undue delay." However, several states, including Denmark and the Netherlands, remained opposed to granting Albania candidate status until it demonstrated that its recent progress could be sustained. Consequently, the Council of the European Union, at its meeting in December 2013, agreed to postpone the decision on candidate status until June 2014.|
|24 June 2014||Under the Greek EU Presidency, the Council of the European Union agreed to grant Albania candidate status, which was endorsed by the European Council a few days later. This coincided with the 10th anniversary of the "Agenda 2014", proposed by the Greek Government in 2004, as part of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Thessaloniki, for boosting the integration of all the Western Balkan states into the European Union.|
|March 2015||At the fifth "High Level Dialogue meeting" between Albania and the EU, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement (Johannes Hahn) notified Albania that the setting of a start date for accession negotiations to begin still required the following two conditions to be met: 1) The government need to reopen political dialogue with the parliamentary opposition, 2) Albania must deliver quality reforms for all 5 earlier identified key areas not yet complied with (public administration, rule of law, corruption, organised crime, fundamental rights). This official stance, was fully supported by the European Parliament through its pass of a Resolution comment in April 2015, which agreed with all conclusions drawn by the commission's latest 2014 Progress Report on Albania. The Albanian Prime Minister outlined the next step of his government would be to submit a detailed progress report on the implementation of the 5 key reforms to the Commission in Autumn 2015, and then he expected the accession negotiations should start shortly afterwards - before the end of 2015.|
|22 July 2016||The Albanian parliament approved constitutional amendments on justice reforms.|
|9 November 2016||The Commission recommended the launch of negotiations.|
|26 November 2016||Germany announced that it would veto the opening accession talks until 2018.|
|Early 2017||The European Parliament warned the government leaders that the parliamentary elections in June must be "free and fair" before negotiations could begin to admit the country into the Union. The MEPs also expressed concern about the country's "selective justice, corruption, the overall length of judicial proceedings and political interference in investigations and court cases" but the EU Press Release expressed some optimism: "It is important for Albania to maintain today's reform momentum and we must be ready to support it as much as possible in this process".|
|December 2018||Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stated that respect of the rights of the Greek minority in Albania is a precondition for Albania's entry into the European Union.|
|June 2019||The European Commissioner Johannes Hahn recommended that the EU open membership talks with Albania. On 1 June 2019, the Council set out the path to opening accession negotiations, with talks thought to begin shortly thereafter.|
|September 2019||Germany's Bundestag set as its preconditions for Albania's EU accession negotiations the reforms in the justice system, continue the fight against drug trafficking, a new electoral law, creation of SPAK, functioning of the Constitutional Court & the Supreme court, appoint the new Prosecutor General, trials for the corrupt judges, and also drop some ambitions of Greater Albania.|
|24 March 2020||EU ministers reached a political agreement on opening accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.|
State of Stabilisation and Association Agreement ratification
Visa liberalisation process
On 1 January 2008 the visa facilitation and readmission agreements between Albania and the EU entered into force. Albania received a road map from the EU for further visa liberalisation with Schengen countries in June 2008.
Albania started issuing biometric passports on 24 May 2009, which were designed to comply with EU guidelines. On 8 November 2010 the Council of the European Union approved visa-free travel to the EU for citizens of Albania. The decision entered into force on 15 December 2010.
The screening process is underway and no chapters have been opened thus far.
|Progression||35 / 35
|0 / 35
|0 / 35
|0 / 35|
|Acquis chapter||Screening Started||Screening Completed||Chapter Opened||Chapter Closed|
|1. Free Movement of Goods||2019-01-17||–||–||–|
|2. Freedom of Movement For Workers||2019-03-13||–||–||–|
|3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services||2018-12-11||–||–||–|
|4. Free Movement of Capital||2019-01-10||–||–||–|
|5. Public Procurement||2018-12-06||–||–||–|
|6. Company Law||2019-10-21||–||–||–|
|7. Intellectual Property Law||2019-02-07||–||–||–|
|8. Competition Policy||2019-11-04||–||–||–|
|9. Financial Services||2019-04-09||–||–||–|
|10. Information Society & Media||2019-11-20||–||–||–|
|11. Agriculture & Rural Development||2019-12-06||–||–||–|
|12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy||2019-02-18||–||–||–|
|14. Transport Policy||2019-06-24||–||–||–|
|17. Economic & Monetary Policy||2019-01-10||–||–||–|
|19. Social Policy & Employment||2019-04-03||–||–||–|
|20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy||2019-01-29||–||–||–|
|21. Trans-European Networks||2019-03-27||–||–||–|
|22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments||2019-02-05||–||–||–|
|23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights||2018-09-27||–||–||−|
|24. Justice, Freedom & Security||2018-11-12||–||–||–|
|25. Science & Research||2019-03-11||–||–||–|
|26. Education & Culture||2019-03-12||–||–||–|
|27. Environment & Climate Change||2019-05-13||–||–||–|
|28. Consumer & Health Protection||2019-03-28||–||–||–|
|29. Customs Union||2019-09-23||–||–||–|
|30. External Relations||2019-09-25||–||–||–|
|31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy||2019-09-26||–||–||–|
|32. Financial Control||2018-12-05||–||–||–|
|33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions||2019-09-27||–||–||–|
|35. Other Issues||–||–||–||–|
early stage / very hard to adopt
considerable efforts needed
some level of preparation
further efforts needed
no major difficulties expected
good level of preparation
well prepared / well advanced
Impact of joining
|Member countries||Population||Area (km2)||GDP
per capita (US$)
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