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Albanian EU accession bid
Status Stabilisation and Association
European Union Albania Locator.svg
EU Albania
PPP GDP ($bl.) 14.712.000 21.160
Area (km²) 4,324,782 28,748
Population 497,198,740 3,600,523
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Albania

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The process of the Accession of Albania to the European Union started in January 2003 when Albania was the first of "Potential Candidate countries" to start the negotiations of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). The SAA was signed on 12 June 2006, and ratification completed with Greece's signature on 14 January 2009. The SAA entered into force on 1 April 2009.[1]

Albania's admission to the EU depends mainly on the country's economic and political stability. Following the steps of the recently admitted Eastern European countries, Albania has been extensively engaged with EU institutions and NATO, and has maintained its position as a stability factor and a strong ally of USA and Western Europe in the troubled and divided region of the Balkans. Albania is a member of NATO. The joining of Albania and the rest of the Western Balkans into the European Union has been set as a priority by the EU enlargement officials who have reaffirmed that "the future of the Western Balkans lies within the European Union.[2]

Albania formally applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009.[3] On November 16, 2009 the Council of the European Union asked the European Commission to prepare an assessment on Albania's readiness to start accession negotiations, a step in the process that has usually taken about a year.[4]

Contents

Chronology of the relations with the European Union

  • 1992: Trade and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Albania. Albania becomes eligible for funding under the EU Phare programme.
  • 1997: Regional Approach. The EU Council of Ministers establishes political and economic conditionality for the development of bilateral relations.
  • 1999: The EU proposes the new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Albania.
  • 1999: Albania benefits from Autonomous Trade Preferences with the EU.
  • 2000: Extension of duty-free access to EU market for products from Albania.
  • 2000: Feira European Council (June 2000) states that all the SAP countries are "potential candidates" for EU membership.
  • 2000: at Zagreb Summit (November), the SAP is officially endorsed by the EU and the Western Balkan countries (including Albania).
  • 2001: First year of the new CARDS programme specifically designed for the SAP countries
  • 2001: The Commission recommends the undertaking of negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Albania. The Göteborg European Council (June 2001) invites the Commission to present draft negotiating directives for the negotiation of a SAA.
  • 2002: Negotiating Directives for the negotiation of a SAA with Albania are adopted in October.
  • 2003: On 31 January, Commission President Prodi officially launches the negotiations for a SAA between the EU and Albania.
  • 2003: at Thessaloniki Summit (June), the 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).
  • 2005 (December): Council decision on the principles of a revised European Partnership for Albania
  • 2006 : On 12 June, the SAA was signed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg
  • 2006 : On 9 November, the European Commission decided to start visa facilitation negotiations with Albania.
  • 2007 : On 13 April, the visa facilitation agreement was signed in Zagreb. The signing EU Commissioner Franco Frattini was quoted saying that this is the first step toward a full abolishment of the visa requirements and the free movement of the Albanian citizens in the EU.
  • 2008 : On 1 January, the visa facilitation agreement entered into force.
  • 2008 : On 7 March, EU Commissioner Franco Frattini opened in Tirana the dialogue toward the liberalization of the visa regime between Albania and EU.
  • 2009 : On 14 January, the SAA ratification process by all the member states is completed.
  • 2009 : On April 1, the SAA enters into force.
  • 2009 : On April 28, Albania formally applies for membership in the European Union.
  • 2009 : On November 16, the Council of the EU asks the European Commission to prepare an assessment on Albania's readiness to start accession negotiations.
  • 2009 : On December 16, the European Commission submits the Questionnaire on accession preparation to the Albanian government.

Further reading

References

See also

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