Brussels, Nov 9 (Tirana Echo) – The European Commission has ‘conditionally’ recommended today the opening of accession talks for Albania’s bid to become a member of the European Union in what seems a tough climb ahead for the small Balkan country.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said today at the Foreign Affairs Committee at the European Parliament that “Albania has made steady progress on fulfilling its key priorities and therefore the Commission grants a conditional recommendation for opening accession talks on EU membership, subject to tangible progress on the justice reform already under way on the ground”.
Commissioner Hahn pointed out that credible results should be delivered on the so called ‘vetting law’ which is designed to scan all judges and prosecutors of Albania’s decayed justice system.
The vetting law is currently challenged by the opposition democratic party at the Constitutional Court of Albania which is expected to deliver a verdict on its compatibility with constitutional and fundamental human rights of Albanian citizens.
Although no exact timeframe was offered during the enlargement package presented to MEPs, both the EU and Albanian authorities expect that formal talks for EU membership will be opened by the end of next year.
Albania is a EU ‘Candidate Country’ and a NATO member but suffers from widespread endemic corruption and lack of economic opportunities while most of its young people seek to desperatly emigrate to richer EU states as the rest of the Balkan countries.
While a conditional recommendation gives hope to Albania’s government and to those pro-enlargement advocates in Europe, the final decision on when to open accession talks rests with the European Council which will decide in its mid December annual meeting.
EU Heads of States are expected to take a cautious stance on enlargement, given upcoming elections next year in the Netherlands, France and Germany and a rise in right wing populism across Europe.
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