EU — Second meeting between Albania and the EU

Sec­ond meet­ing of the sta­bil­i­sa­tion and asso­ci­a­tion Coun­cil between Alba­nia and the EU
Brus­sels, 11 May 2010 — Joint Press Release
The Sta­bil­i­sa­tion and Asso­ci­a­tion Coun­cil (SA Coun­cil) between Alba­nia and the Euro­pean Union held its sec­ond meet­ing on 11 May 2010. The meet­ing was chaired by Mr Ilir Meta, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs of the Repub­lic of Alba­nia. The EU del­e­ga­tion was led, on behalf of the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, by State Sec­re­tary Diego Lopez Gar­ri­do, Min­istry of For­eign Affairs, Spain and Com­mis­sion­er Šte­fan Füle rep­re­sent­ed the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

The SA Coun­cil not­ed the con­clu­sions of the Gen­er­al Affairs Coun­cil of 7 Decem­ber 2009, where the Coun­cil not­ed that the 2009 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions met most inter­na­tion­al stan­dards but some short­com­ings remained and the OSCE/ODIHR rec­om­men­da­tions need­ed to be fol­lowed up. It not­ed that strength­en­ing the rule of law and notably the fight against organ­ised crime and cor­rup­tion, as well as the prop­er func­tion­ing of state insti­tu­tions, espe­cial­ly the inde­pen­dence of the judi­cia­ry, remained urgent chal­lenges for Alba­nia. The Coun­cil also recalled that admin­is­tra­tive and enforce­ment capac­i­ty required fur­ther strength­en­ing, and inde­pen­dence of the admin­is­tra­tion need­ed to be ensured. It not­ed that more efforts should be made to improve con­di­tions for media free­dom. The Coun­cil not­ed that Alba­nia had made progress in ful­fill­ing the bench­marks set in the frame­work of the visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion dia­logue. The Coun­cil encour­aged Alba­nia to con­tin­ue its con­struc­tive role in the sta­bil­i­ty of the region. The EU also called on all polit­i­cal par­ties in Alba­nia to pur­sue a con­struc­tive polit­i­cal dia­logue, includ­ing in par­lia­ment.

The SA Coun­cil reviewed devel­op­ments relat­ed to the polit­i­cal cri­te­ria. The SA Coun­cil stressed the impor­tance of a con­struc­tive polit­i­cal dia­logue between major polit­i­cal par­ties and actors, which is a key pri­or­i­ty of the Euro­pean Part­ner­ship. The EU under­lined the impor­tance for all sides to active­ly coop­er­ate to re-estab­lish unin­ter­rupt­ed full par­lia­men­tary activ­i­ty involv­ing the rul­ing major­i­ty and the oppo­si­tion. In demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­eties, Par­lia­ment is the place for dia­logue and the res­o­lu­tion of dif­fer­ences. The EU called on the Alban­ian polit­i­cal lead­ers to take into account the pos­si­ble con­se­quences of the polit­i­cal dead­lock for Albania’s EU inte­gra­tion path. In the peri­od lead­ing to the prepa­ra­tion of the opin­ion on Albania’s appli­ca­tion for EU mem­ber­ship, a ful­ly func­tion­ing par­lia­ment is essen­tial for demon­strat­ing Albania’s demo­c­ra­t­ic matu­ri­ty and for ensur­ing progress on key reforms. The EU will con­tin­ue to fol­low future devel­op­ments with a par­tic­u­lar atten­tion on progress as regards the polit­i­cal cri­te­ria. The EU stressed that a solu­tion to the cur­rent polit­i­cal stale­mate should be based on two fun­da­men­tal demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples, which are the respect for the con­sti­tu­tion and trans­paren­cy.

The SA Coun­cil recalled the sub­mis­sion of the appli­ca­tion by Alba­nia on 28 April 2009 and wel­comed the sub­mis­sion to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, on 14 April 2010, of the answers to its ques­tion­naire with a view to enabling the Com­mis­sion to pre­pare its opin­ion on Albania’s appli­ca­tion for mem­ber­ship to the Euro­pean Union. This marks an impor­tant step on Albania’s Euro­pean inte­gra­tion path. The SA Coun­cil was informed of Albania’s pri­ma­ry objec­tive and strong com­mit­ment to advance in the EU inte­gra­tion process by attain­ing can­di­date sta­tus.

The SA Coun­cil wel­comed very good progress made by Alba­nia in meet­ing the bench­marks of the road map for visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion. The SA Coun­cil not­ed Albania’s aspi­ra­tion for a visa free trav­el regime for its cit­i­zens as soon as pos­si­ble. The SA Coun­cil wel­comed the aware­ness cam­paign by the Gov­ern­ment inform­ing the cit­i­zens about their rights and oblig­a­tions under the visa free regime.

The SA Coun­cil also reviewed progress on judi­cial reform, which is a key Euro­pean Part­ner­ship pri­or­i­ty, stress­ing the impor­tance of the rule of law and inde­pen­dence of the judi­cia­ry as core aspects of the polit­i­cal cri­te­ria for EU acces­sion. The EU stressed the impor­tance of adopt­ing a com­pre­hen­sive reform strat­e­gy for the judi­cia­ry and called on Alba­nia to safe­guard and respect the inde­pen­dence, trans­paren­cy, effi­cien­cy and account­abil­i­ty of the judi­cia­ry, and in par­tic­u­lar the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court and of judges and pros­e­cu­tors. The SA Coun­cil was informed of the adop­tion of the law on the pri­vate bailiff ser­vice and of amend­ments to the Law on Gen­er­al Prosecutor’s Office, while the law on the High Coun­cil of Jus­tice, the Nation­al Judi­cial Con­fer­ence Law, the Law on Judi­cial Admin­is­tra­tion and the Law on Admin­is­tra­tive Courts remain to be adopt­ed.

In rela­tion to the fight against cor­rup­tion, which is a key Euro­pean Part­ner­ship pri­or­i­ty, the SA Coun­cil not­ed the recent adop­tion of the inte­grat­ed Anti-Cor­rup­tion Action Plan for 2010. The EU called for rig­or­ous imple­men­ta­tion of the Action Plan and the under­ly­ing anti-cor­rup­tion strat­e­gy. It under­lined the impor­tance of estab­lish­ing a con­vinc­ing track record of inves­ti­ga­tions and con­vic­tions free from polit­i­cal inter­fer­ence. The SA Coun­cil not­ed good progress with regard to the work of Joint Inves­ti­ga­tion Units on eco­nom­ic crime and cor­rup­tion, with an increased num­ber of cor­rup­tion cas­es being inves­ti­gat­ed, includ­ing cas­es involv­ing judges and police and cus­tom offi­cers. The EU expressed the view that cor­rup­tion remains wide­spread and con­sti­tutes a par­tic­u­lar­ly seri­ous prob­lem in many areas includ­ing in rela­tion to par­ty fund­ing, in the health sec­tor and oth­ers. The SA Coun­cil not­ed con­tin­u­ing efforts and steps by the Alban­ian Gov­ern­ment to fight cor­rup­tion. The SA Coun­cil was informed of the need to achieve fur­ther progress in imple­ment­ing GRECO rec­om­men­da­tions.

The EU point­ed out that unre­solved prop­er­ty issues have under­mined efforts to devel­op a func­tion­al land mar­ket and kept for­eign invest­ment below poten­tial. Improv­ing legal cer­tain­ty is cru­cial for fur­ther enhanc­ing the busi­ness cli­mate and address­ing risks of cor­rup­tion.

With regard to free­dom of expres­sion, the EU recalled the impor­tance of respect­ing media free­dom and inde­pen­dence and of ensur­ing an improve­ment of the over­all cli­mate for the media. Media free­dom is a fun­da­men­tal pil­lar of good gov­er­nance and account­abil­i­ty. The SA Coun­cil was informed on the efforts made and called for fur­ther progress with regard to the imple­men­ta­tion of the adopt­ed strat­e­gy for the pub­lic admin­is­tra­tion and stressed the impor­tance of estab­lish­ing and main­tain­ing a sta­ble, pro­fes­sion­al and mer­it­based civ­il ser­vice.

The SA Coun­cil not­ed that on human rights and the pro­tec­tion of minori­ties the leg­isla­tive frame­work is most­ly in place. The SA Coun­cil wel­comed the appoint­ment of the Com­mis­sion­er fol­low­ing the adop­tion of the law on Pro­tec­tion from Dis­crim­i­na­tion, which reg­u­lates the imple­men­ta­tion of and respect for the prin­ci­ple of equal­i­ty and non dis­crim­i­na­tion. The SA Coun­cil wel­comed the adop­tion of the Roma Decade Action Plan, for which suf­fi­cient resources will be nec­es­sary to ensure suc­cess now that it is being imple­ment­ed. The SA Coun­cil wel­comed the deci­sion to con­duct the Pop­u­la­tion and Hous­ing Cen­sus, which is planned for 2011, ensur­ing full respect of the prin­ci­ple of self­i­den­ti­fi­ca­tion. It will col­lect updat­ed sta­tis­ti­cal data on per­sons belong­ing to all minori­ties, in accor­dance with the EU and inter­na­tion­al stan­dards. This should be a step for­ward in order to fur­ther devel­op and imple­ment appro­pri­ate poli­cies regard­ing per­sons belong­ing to minori­ties.

Con­cern­ing gen­der equal­i­ty the EU not­ed that the imple­men­ta­tion of the exist­ing legal frame­work and poli­cies is insuf­fi­cient. It encour­aged Alba­nia to con­sid­er­ably strength­en the pro­tec­tion of women against all forms of vio­lence.

As regards the eco­nom­ic cri­te­ria, the SA Coun­cil not­ed that Alba­nia has moved clos­er to a func­tion­ing mar­ket econ­o­my but observes short­com­ings on real estate reg­is­tra­tion and order­ly mar­ket exit pro­ce­dures. Eco­nom­ic growth, sta­bil­i­ty and pre­dictabil­i­ty have been main­tained dur­ing 2009 despite the glob­al cri­sis but macro­eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty and fis­cal dis­ci­pline need to be ensured. The SA Coun­cil not­ed progress made towards enabling the Alban­ian econ­o­my to cope with com­pet­i­tive pres­sure with­in the EU by imple­ment­ing its pri­vati­sa­tion agen­da and upgrad­ing the trans­port and ener­gy infra­struc­ture in the coun­try, while increas­ing com­pe­ti­tion in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion sec­tor.

The SA Coun­cil not­ed that the EU wel­comed the progress made by Alba­nia in align­ing its leg­is­la­tion and capac­i­ty with Euro­pean stan­dards and in imple­ment­ing Sta­bil­i­sa­tion and Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment (SAA) com­mit­ments. In this regard, the EU wel­comed the progress made in areas such as free move­ment of goods, com­pe­ti­tion, ener­gy, and SME pol­i­cy, whilst encour­ag­ing Alba­nia to step up efforts in oth­er areas, such as audio­vi­su­al pol­i­cy, trans­port and intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty rights where progress has been lim­it­ed. The SA Coun­cil wel­comed the progress on some sec­toral poli­cies and Alba­nia took note of the infor­ma­tion by the Euro­pean Union regard­ing required fur­ther efforts, includ­ing as regards improv­ing admin­is­tra­tive capac­i­ty in sec­toral poli­cies.

In the field of jus­tice, free­dom and secu­ri­ty, the SA Coun­cil wel­comed progress made in sev­er­al areas, espe­cial­ly in the con­text of visa lib­er­al­i­sa­tion dia­logue, includ­ing the fight against orga­nized crime, but called for more efforts to con­sol­i­date reforms, includ­ing through fur­ther imple­men­ta­tion of new and exist­ing leg­is­la­tion.

The SA Coun­cil reviewed the imple­men­ta­tion of the SAA, not­ing that over­all Alba­nia has been imple­ment­ing well the Sta­bil­i­sa­tion and Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment and has con­tributed to the smooth func­tion­ing of the var­i­ous joint insti­tu­tions. In par­tic­u­lar, the SA Coun­cil wel­comed the progress achieved in align­ing with the SAA pro­vi­sions in the field of com­pe­ti­tion, as well as the align­ment with the SAA on the tax­a­tion of import­ed print­ed mate­ri­als. Fur­ther efforts are need­ed to imple­ment the com­mit­ments of the SAA in the field of elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions and net­works.

Fol­low­ing the polit­i­cal deci­sion of the Euro­pean Coun­cil in Thes­sa­loni­ki in June 2003, a Frame­work Agree­ment open­ing the door to the country’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in Com­mu­ni­ty Pro­grammes entered into force in August 2005. CARDS and IPA funds are used to meet a part of the costs for the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pro­grammes. The EU wel­comed the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Alba­nia in the 7th Frame­work Pro­gramme for research, tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment; in the Entre­pre­neur­ship and Inno­va­tion com­po­nent of the Com­pet­i­tive­ness and Inno­va­tion Frame­work Pro­gramme; and in the Europe for Cit­i­zens Pro­gramme.

Since the begin­ning of 2004, as part of the Thes­sa­loni­ki agen­da, Alba­nia is invit­ed to align with Com­mon posi­tions, dec­la­ra­tions etc on a reg­u­lar basis in order to co-ordi­nate its for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy with the EU. The SA Coun­cil took note of the align­ment pol­i­cy tak­en by Alba­nia to that end.

The SA Coun­cil exchanged views on the devel­op­ments in the West­ern Balka­ns region and com­mend­ed Albania’s con­struc­tive role in fos­ter­ing region­al sta­bil­i­ty and good neigh­bourly rela­tions with oth­er West­ern Balkan coun­tries. The SA Coun­cil wel­comed the con­tin­ued active par­tic­i­pa­tion of Alba­nia in region­al ini­tia­tives in South East­ern Europe, such as the South East Euro­pean Coop­er­a­tion Process, the Region­al Coop­er­a­tion Coun­cil, the Cen­tral Euro­pean Free Trade Agree­ment (CEFTA).

Source:
Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →