The special edition of our monthly ‘Country Digest’ featuring Western Balkans continues. This time in the spotlight is Albania.
May 2018 marked a renewed momentum in the EU-Western Balkans relations. The Sofia EU-Western Balkan Summit reinforced a mutual commitment to the European perspective of the region and set outconcrete measures to boost cooperation both with the EU and within the region. The EU also agreed to step up its support both in terms of funding and technical assistance.
The new dynamic in the EU-Western Balkans relations coincided with a major – and highly relevant – development: the Commission proposal on the EU Multi-Financial Framework (MFF) for the period 2021-2027. The proposed MFF reflects a clear commitment to enlargement and Western Balkans in particular. In its proposal, the Commission has increased funding for the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) to 14.5 BEUR to support formal candidates (Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey) and potential candidates (FYROM, Albania, BiH and Kosovo) to fulfill the accession criteria.
Next steps include:
v The Digital Assembly in Sofia on 25-26 June. A special focus will be given to how Western Balkan countries can best benefit from the digitization of their economies and societies. Western Balkan leaders will also launch the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans.
v The European Council on 28-29 June where decision should be made whether to open negotiations with FYROM and Albania.
v The annual connectivity package for 2018 already includes 190 MEUR grants in connectivity projects and 30 MEUR for preparing digital projects, while further elements will be presented later this year.
v The Berlin Process Summit in London on 9-10 July will cover a wide range of issues in EU-Western Balkan relations, aiming to increase economic stability, strengthen regional security co-operation and facilitate political co-operation.
v An EU-Western Balkans summit is scheduled to take place in the first half of 2020 during the Croatian Presidency.
Did you know about Albania & the EU?
Albania is a candidate country since 2014.
In April 2018 the Commission recommended to start accession negotiations with Albania.
The EU is the largest provider of financial assistance to Albania.
In total, 649.4 MEUR have been allocated to Albania for the period 2014-2020 under the IPA II programme. The 2014-2017 action programmes provide 170 MEUR for reforms in key sectors such as democracy and governance, rule of law and fundamental rights as well as 113 MEUR for investments in competitiveness and growth.
92.5 MEUR have been given in grants through the EU Western Balkans Investments Framework since 2009.
The European Investment Bank has invested 359 MEUR since 1999.
In addition, the EU has supported Albania through the IPA multi-country programme and Albania participates in several cross-border cooperation programs and transnational cooperation programmes.
Albania participates in centrally managed programmes such as Erasmus+, H2020, Creative Europe (Culture and Media strands), EASI, COSME, Fiscalis 2020, Customs 2020 and Europe for Citizens.