EU Integration


Albania's Actions toward EU Integration

  • 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 a new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Albania. Feasibility study on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement completed.

  • 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.

  • 2001: First year of the new CARDS programme specifically designed for the SAP countries
  • 2001: The Commission concludes that it is now appropriate to proceed with an Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Albania.

  • 2001 : The Göteborg European Council (June 2001) invites the Commission to present draft negotiating directives for the negotiation of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Albania.


European Union Assistance in Albania:

Main Objectives

The overall objective of the assistance is to support the participation

of Albania in the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP), notably:



  1. To bring Albania closer to EU standards and principles, and to prepare the country for gradual integration into EU structures in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
  2. To help the Albanian authorities in consolidating democracy and implementing the rule of law.
  3. To assist the government of Albania in its efforts to achieve a comprehensive administrative and institutional reform.
  4. To facilitate the process of economic and social transformation towards an efficient market economy.


Curent EU Activity in Albania


From 1991-2000 the EU provided ECU 1021 million in total

to Albania, of which an important part took the form of balance of payment

support or specific budgetary assistance linked to sectorial reforms (agriculture,

public administration) or to refugee related costs during the 1999 Kosovo

crisis. In humanitarian assistance alone, the EU's Humanitarian Aid Office

has provided around ¤ 140 million. Sectorial programmes amount ¤ 404 million.


The EU is involved in:

Strengthening of public administration and judiciary

  1. Helping Albania develop a modern judiciary compatible with EU standards. A joint programme with the Council of Europe has supported the reform of the Albanian judicial system. Legal and regulatory frameworks have been put in place, assistance has been provided to the Ministry of Justice and other judiciary institutions and training programmes have been organised in the School of Magistrates.
  2. Improving court facilities, and providing support for the rehabilitation of the prison system, in order to improve its quality and standards of incarceration.
  3. Enhancing the professionalism of the civil service with the aim of establishing an efficient self-sustaining public administration in line with EU standards.

Police and public order

  1. Providing strategic advice, training and equipment to the Albanian police. An effective Albanian police force has an essential role to play in enforcing the rule of law and providing internal security.


  1. Working with the Albanian Customs service to secure revenue collection and to improve customs management and procedures. A Customs Assistance Mission in Albania (CAM-A) has been deployed and is achieving valuable results in terms of revenue collection, prevention of smuggling and corruption and reinforcement of the service. The computerisation of the customs system is financed out of the 2000 programme


  1. Providing assistance to INSTAT the national statistical institution, to organise a population census in the year 2001. Due to major changes since the last census in 1989, the government lacks a clear picture of the current geographical distribution of the population and its composition. The population and housing census was successfully carried out in April 2001.

Development of infrastructures


Improving energy, transport and water networks are crucial

to economic growth in Albania. Public services and infrastructure are generally

scarce and of low quality. Improving access to many villages and remote

urban districts is critical to improve standards of living and also to increase

the potential of the communication network inside Albania, but also in the

region and with the EU. The EU is:


  1. Financing several sections of national roads under the East-West corridor and North-South national axis, and rehabilitation works in the main ports.
  2. Preparing a Transport Master Plan, encompassing road, rail, civil aviation and maritime networks.
  3. Preparing designs for two sections of road to Qaf'Thanes-Korca in the East-West Corridor (n°8) and to Fier-Tepelene in the North - South AXIS as well as the Durres Ferry Terminal.
  4. Playing a key role in stimulating and co-ordinating donor intervention in the water sector, as well as in the implementation of construction and rehabilitation works. This is a key area for infrastructure development in Albania. The government has developed a clear strategy for improving the water supply, which requires significant financial support from donors.

Local community development

  1. Through its local community development programme, the EU provides funding for hundreds of projects at local community level in Albania. Projects aim to build or repair public infrastructures to be further operated by the beneficiary local governments.
  2. The main objective is to improve access to remote areas, improve public services such as water, primary education and health, and to achieve higher standards of living by improving the urban environment. The projects include training in regional planning for local government staff.


  1. The agriculture sector has undergone a radical reform process in the past years, focused on land distribution and market liberalisation. Much progress has been achieved in this sector, but major challenges remain like the enforcement of the new legal framework and the development of marketing services in order to promote exports and fully use opportunities provided by the new EU trade preferences.
  2. The EU provides support for land mapping, fishery sector, veterinary control, and policy advice.

Cross-border co-operation

  1. The EU cross-border co-operation programme offers a further opportunity to open up the country and develop closer links with its immediate European Union neighbours, Greece and Italy.
  2. The Albanian-Greek border region is isolated, rural and mountainous. The main economic activity is agriculture and the region suffers from labour market problems and unemployment, and consequently a high level of emigration to Greece. The Cross-border co-operation programme provides support to overcome the socio-economic gap between the bordering Albanian and Greek regions.
  3. The Albanian-Italian Cross-border co-operation focuses on the regions of Albania which have a common maritime border with Italy, in order to improve and expand transport infrastructure.


  1. At university level, Albania takes an active part in the EU inter-university exchange programme TEMPUS. Albanian universities are collaborating with their EU counterparts in joint projects and individual mobility grants for students and professors are being provided.

Democracy and Human rights

  1. The EU provides assistance to NGOs working in the field of democracy and human rights under its European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. Projects include raising awareness on the role of human rights in building a civil society, production of radio and TV programmes promoting understanding and tolerance, supporting journalist networks, etc.

Humanitarian assistance

  1. In response to the Spring 97 crisis, an office of the EU's humanitarian aid programme ECHO was opened in Tirana. Specific support for the Kosovo refugees in 1999 has been provided. After the end of the Kosovo crisis, the programme was essentially dedicated to the public health sector, water-sanitation and rehabilitation of schools in remote areas. As there is no more an emergency situation in Albania, it is expected that ECHO activities will be progressively phased out from the country.


On-Going EU Support

Albania has faced a difficult and turbulent decade. Ten years ago, it

was the most isolated country in Europe. Early efforts to introduce democracy

and to build a market economy were severely damaged by the lawlessness and

economic collapse which followed the failure of the pyramid schemes in 1997.

In 1999, it bore a huge burden during the Kosovo crisis; at the height of

the crisis, Albania was host to over 460,000 refugees. This would have imposed

a considerable burden on any country - but especially for a small and poor

country like Albania, embarking on far reaching political and economic reforms.

Albania's response to the crisis won widespread admiration.



Albania has made considerable progress since 1999. Economic

decline has been reversed and in 2000 GDP grew by 7.8%, in line with growth

rates reported for 1999 (+8.0%) and 1998 (+7.3%). Important progress has

been made in securing government revenue through reform of the customs and

tax services, Albania's trade regime has been modernised and liberalised

and Albania became a WTO member in September 2000. Privatisation of small

and medium enterprises can now be considered as completed and, with some

delay, privatisation of larger companies is also progressing.



However, despite the impressive achievements in the last

two years, a lot remains to be done. Main issues to be addressed are: insufficient

administrative capacity, lack of implementation of laws, weak judiciary,

corruption, further efforts as regards organised crime, further consolidation

in the economic area, fight against grey economy, and need for overall consolidation

of the reforms recently carried out.



The Future of EU Assistance in


The European Union CARDS programme stands for Community Assistance for Reconstruction,

Development and Stabilisation. The CARDS programme is the main channel for

the European Union's financial and technical co-operation with the countries

of South-East Europe.Future CARDS assistance to Albania will support the

priorities of the Stabilisation and Association process (i.a.Justice and

Home Affairs issues, strengthening of public ministration, internal market-related

areas, environment, …)