The European Union has granted Albania candidate status clearing the first hurdle on its road to full membership. The decision was taken by EU foreign ministers at the meeting of the General Affairs Council, based on the recommendation by the European Commission, the council’s press office informed in a statement. The decision is subject to formal approval of the EU heads on Friday (June 27). It also envisages the opening of EU accession negotiations only after Albania achieves additional progress in key areas.
The Council urged Albania to intensify reforms in order to meet key priorities, with particular focus on administration and judiciary reform, fight against corruption and organised crime and fundamental rights. Moreover, a constructive and sustainable political dialogue will remain essential to consolidate and continue reforms, the Council concluded. The EU ministers also noted that the country needs to strengthen its support for the timely reduction of migratory pressures on the EU including by pursuing its efforts to ensure the fulfillment of all conditions of the visa roadmap and by taking further steps to address the issue of unfounded asylum applications lodged by Albanian nationals.
The granting of EU candidate status is a strong positive signal to Albania as it marks the next step of the Balkan state's European integration process. From economic prospective, the candidate status is expected to have a favourable impact on foreign investments and job creation in Albania.
Formally, Albania will be able to attend the Council meetings. Its access and cooperation with EU agencies will be easier.
As regards to EU financial assistance, along with the access to the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) Albania will also be able to benefit from the participation in EU programmes as well.
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