Relations between Albania and the EU
Albania's relations with the European Union, based on the national objective of EU integration, are strategic and a priority of the foreign policy. The primary interest of Albania in relation to the EU is the future EU accession.
- In 1991 Albania established diplomatic relations with the European Community;
- In 2000, Albania was formally recognized by the European Union as a potential candidate country;
- In 2003 the Thessaloniki Summit of EU leaders adopted the Stabilization and Association process, thus confirming the prospect of EU membership of the Western Balkan countries, including Albania.
In the same year began negotiations on the EU-Albania Stability and Association Agreement;
- On 12 June 2006 , the negotiation process on the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Albania was concluded and signed at the General Affairs Council (GAC) in Luxembourg;
- On 1 April 2009 the SAA entered into force. In the same month Albania applied formally to join the EU;
- In November 2009, based on the questionnaire submitted by the European Commission to Albania regarding the country's accession preparation, negotiations began on status of candidate country;
- On 27 June 2014, Albania was granted the candidate country status.
The Council set out five key priorities (public administration, rule of law, fight against corruption, organised crime, fundamental rights) that Albania had to fulfill before the start of accession negotiations;
- On 9 November 2016, based on the achievement in the key priorities, the Commission first proposed to the Council the commencement of accession negotiations with Albania, subject to concrete progress in implementing the justice reform, in particular the “vetting” process of judges and prosecutors;
- On 17 April 2018, in its Annual Enlargement Package, the European Commission recommended that the Council decide to open accession negotiations with Albania in the light of Albania's steady progress, preservation and deepening of reforms;
- On 26 June 2018, the EU General Affairs Council agreed to respond positively to the progress made by Albania and to set the path to the opening of accession negotiations in June 2019;
- On 29 May 2019, the European Commission presented the annual Enlargement Package, recommending again the immediate opening of accession negotiations for Albania;
- On 18 June 2019, the General Affairs Council reaffirmed its conclusions of 26 June 2018, took good note of the Commission's recommendation to open accession negotiations with Albania and decided to come back to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019;
- On 18 October 2019, the European Council considered opening accession negotiations with Albania. The Council decided to return to the matter before May 2020.
- On March 25, 2020, the General Affairs Council of the EU decided to open accession negotiations with the Republic of Albania, based on the progress made with reforms and Albania's achievement to meet the conditions set unanimously by the Council in June 2018.
On March 26, 2020, the European Council adopted the decision of the General Affairs Council of the EU to open negotiations with Albania.
On 9 November 2006, the European Commission decided to start visa facilitation negotiations with Albania.
The Visa Facilitation Agreement was signed by the parties on 13 April 2007, in Zagreb. It paved the way for the complete abolition of visas and free movement for Albanian citizens to EU countries.
Following the entry into force of the Agreement, on 1 January 2008, on 7 March 2008, in Tirana, negotiations began between the European Commission and the Albanian Government to reach a consensus on visa liberalization between the parties.
At the conclusion of the talks, in May 2010, the Commission proposed to allow Albanian citizens to travel to the Schengen countries without the need for a short-term visa.
On 8 November 2010, the Council approved the Commission proposal and the visa-free regime entered into force on 15 December 2010.
The European Commission is authorised to evaluate annually the implementation of the Agreement. In its latest report in December 2018, the European Commission stated that Albania has fulfilled its obligations, proposing to maintain this regime with Albania.