(17) Historical Concepts of EU




 The country concluded a trade and co-operation agreement with the European Community in 1992 that held out the prospect of negotiating an association agreement.

Progress towards such a goal was hampered in the 1990s by domestic political and economic instability in Albania. In 1999, however, the country became part of the Stabilization and Association Process that the European Union (EU) launched in the aftermath of the Kosovo crisis. This led to assistance under the CARDS programme, and

the possibility of opening negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement. Albania is keen to become a member of the EU, a point recognized at the Feira European Council in 2000 when Albania, along with the other countries in the Western Balkans, was confirmed as a potential candidate state. In 2003 EU membership clearly remained a priority for the Albanian Government. Although negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement were opened in February 2003, effectively representing Albania’s first step towards eventual EU membership, the Commission President, Romano Prodi, asserted that substantial problems remained which required serious consideration by the authorities in Tirana before any real progress could be made by Albania towards the acquisition of full EU membership.

These included suppressing criminal activities and showing evidence of solid economic progress. In July 2003 an ‘Annual Programme for Albania’, is detailing how €46.5m.of CARDS funds would be spent in assisting Albania in its reform and modernization efforts, was adopted by the Commission.

Since its first free elections following the ongoing transition from Communism in 1991, Albania has experienced economic and political turmoil. Political unrest and economic crisis in the mid-1990s led to internal conflict. Order was restored with the presence of an international peacekeeping mission.

Albania receives funding from the European Union (EU) in the form of humanitarian assistance and from the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development, and Stability (CARDS) program. As with many of the Western Balkan countries, EU aid is directed toward strengthening justice and home affairs, police, rebuilding and developing new infrastructure, cross-border cooperation, education, democracy, and human rights, among other important issue areas that receive EU attention and support. Considered a possible future EU member state, negotiations for a Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Albania began on 31 January 2003.

Political & Economic relations

Albania is a potential candidate country for EU accession following the Thessaloniki European Council of June 2003. On 18 February 2008 the Council adopted a new European partnership with Albania. TheStabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)with the country was signed on 12 June 2006 and entered into force on 1 April 2009. It supersedes the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related aspects, which entered into force in December 2006.The EU-Albaniavisa facilitation agreemententered into force in January 2008 while the readmission agreement entered into force in 2006.

Key dates in Albania's path towards the EU

10 October 2012

European Commission recommended that Albania be granted EU candidate status, subject to the completion of key measures in certain areas

1 March 2012

A revised National Action Plan is adopted followed by consultation meetings with the Commission on its implementation

1 November 2011

Ruling majority and opposition reached a political agreement on cooperation on EU issues.

10 June 2011

Adoption of the Action Plan addressing the 12 key priorities of the Commission Opinion on Albania's application for membership to the European Union

15 December 2010:Visa Liberalisation with Albania enteres into force

9 November 2010:The Commission issues its Opinion on Albania's membership request

16 November 2009: Council approves Albania's application for EU membership and invites the European Commission to submit an opinion on the application.

28 April 2009: Albania submits its application for EU membership.

1 April 2009: Entry into force of theStabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).

June 2008: The European Commission presents a road map identifying specific requirements for visa liberalisation with Albania.

March 2008: Visa liberalisation dialogue launched.

18 February 2008: Council decision on a revisedEuropean partnershipfor Albania.

22 January 2008: Albania and the EC sign the Financing Agreement for the instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) 2007 National Programme.

January 2008: Thevisa facilitation agreemententers into force.

18 October 2007: Albania signs the IPA Framework Agreement.

September 2007: Signature of avisa facilitation agreementbetween Albania and the EU.

May 2007: Adoption of the Multi-Annual Indicative Planning Document (MIPD) 2007-2009 for Albania under the IPA.

January 2007: Entry into force of the new instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).

December 2006: Entry into force of theInterim Agreement.

June 2006: Signature of theStabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg.

May 2006: Entry into force of the EC-Albania readmission agreement.

January 2006: Council decision on a revised European Partnership for Albania.

June 2004: Council decision on a first European Partnership for Albania.

June 2003: AtThessaloniki European CounciltheStabilisation and Association Process (SAP)is confirmed as the EU policy for the Western Balkans. The EU perspective for these countries is confirmed (countries participating in the SAP are eligible for EU accession and may join the EU once they are ready).

January 2003:Commission President Prodi officially launches the negotiations for a SAA between the EU and Albania.

October 2002: Negotiating Directives for the negotiation of a SAA with Albania are adopted in October.

2001: The Commission recommends the undertaking of negotiations on SAA with Albania. The Goeteborg European Council invites the Commission to present draft negotiating directives for the negotiation of a SAA.

2001: First year of theCommunity Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS)programme specifically designed for the Stabilisation and Association Process countries.

November 2000:Zagreb Summitlaunches theStabilisation and Association Process (SAP)for five countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Albania.

June 2000: Feira European Council states that all the countries under the SAP are "potential candidates" for EU membership.

2000: Extension of duty-free access to EU market for products from Albania.

1999: Albania benefits from Autonomous Trade Preferences with the EU.

1999: The EU proposes a new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Albania.

1997: Regional Approach. The EU Council of Ministers establishes political and economic conditionality for the development of bilateral relations.

1992: Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Albania. Albania becomes eligible for funding under the EU PHARE programme.




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