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Albania is a candidate for accession to the EU

At the end of this week, the European heads of state should formally recognize Albania as a candidate country living behind the status of potential candidate country.

This is the beginning of a long period of negotiations. As noted by the EU executive, this process “will take time.” The official opening of discussions will not start before next year.

This status was granted to Albanians to reward their progress in several key points, such as the fight against corruption and organized crime and the establishment of the Rule of Law.

Future efforts should turn to intensify particularly administrative and judicial reforms and actions to reduce migratory pressure on the EU.

Since 2000, Albania is declared as “potential candidate”, then, as with Serbia, a Stabilisation and Association Agreement was ratified in 2009. Already in June 2013, the Commission had proposed to grant the candidate status to Albania after the parliamentary elections that were held without fraud.

The difference between the candidate and the potential candidate countries

Other potential candidates and candidates can access to many financial aids; the candidate countries may participate in addition to European political meetings to hope to attract foreign investment.

Among the possible grants, the Instrument Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) is designed to support States in the implementation of reforms necessary to move closer to European values. The overall budget for 2014-2020 is € 11.3 billion.

Potential candidate countries, through agreements with the European Union, may participate in certain programmes, such as COSME, a financing instrument dedicated to SMEs that Montenegro joined this week.

The Instrument for Development Cooperation (DCI) is only open to candidate countries and funds projects on the environment and climate as well as projects on civil society and local authorities change. The overall budget for the next seven years is € 18.9 billion.

Candidates can also participate in intra-community programmes such as Horizon 2020 or the Creative Europe network, which aims to develop European culture and that Albania joined earlier this week.

Many calls for proposals are published each week on the EuropeAid and/or delegations websites of the concerned countries.

Albania: a candidate country that is likely to remain candidate for long

After the adhesion of Croatia into the EU in June, the granting of the candidate status to Albania appears to be the logical continuation of the European opening to the Balkans.

The Commission seems to support the application of Albania, but countries like France and Germany are more reluctant to the idea, which could further delay the negotiations.

There are now 6 candidate countries: Turkey, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Iceland and Albania and 2 potential candidates: Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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