National Resource Center for Civil Society in Albania: Opening of Accession Negotiations with the EU – Inclusion of Civil Society Actors in Key Structures and Phases of the Negotiation Process, 2 June 2023 Tirana

On June 2nd 2023, a workshop was held at Europe House Tirana with the aim of engaging civil society actors about the main structures and phases of the negotiation process organized by European Movement Albania in framework of National Resource Center for Civil Society in ALbania, a project implemented by Partners Albania for Change and Development in partnership with EMA and ACPD.

The Executive Director of the European Movement in Albania (EMA), Gledis Gjipali, conducted the first session, discussing the process of EU integration of Albania in terms of progress assessment and level of preparation according to the European Commission’s annual country report. Gjipali also talked about the Commission’s evaluation methodology, how the civil society can be involved and contribute during the period of preparing the report by the EC. He analysed in detail the progress made for Chapter 23 and Chapter 24 and also for the Political Criteria, comparing the level of progress and preparation for two last years for Albania.
In the second and third sessions of this event, Altin Fuga,Coordinator at the Prime Minister Office, explained the progress of the negotiations and the steps that are being taken. During the presentation, he also discussed the opening of negotiations and the screening process (how explanatory meetings/bilateral meetings and reporting by the European Commission work), the main challenges and shortcomings faced by the public administration today and their level of preparation, as well as transparency and information about the process from the perspective of CSOs. After the explanatory meetings, bilateral meetings take place between the candidate country and EU institutions. These meetings are more detailed and focused on assessing the candidate country’s compliance with EU conditions and standards. Specific issues of the candidate country’s progress in various sectors such as economic policy, justice, environment, etc., are discussed.
Fuga emphasized the importance of continuous monitoring of challenges and developments by civil society actors as it brings about more improvements and ensures the involvement of all actors as close as possible to this process. He provided detailed information and practical examples of the important dates for Albania in the European integration process. To become a member of the EU, a candidate country must prepare reports and roadmaps to demonstrate its progress in meeting the membership conditions. These documents are evaluated by EU institutions, and their basis is used to assess whether the candidate country is ready for membership or not. Civil society can be involved in the preparation process of these reports by offering inputs, comments, and additional information regarding the fulfilment of EU conditions from the civil society perspective.
The main challenges and shortcomings faced by the administration in the integration process are different for each candidate country and are related to their specific context and reality. In some countries, challenges may be at the institutional level, corruption, human rights, law enforcement, and independence of the judiciary system. In other countries, challenges may exist in specific sectors such as the economy, environment, transportation, etc. Shortcomings are related to the administrative capacity to implement necessary reforms and meet the membership conditions.
Transparency and information are important aspects of the candidate country’s integration process into the EU. Fuga emphasized that civil society organizations play a crucial role in monitoring the process and ensuring transparency and comprehensive information for the public. They can monitor developments in the negotiations, provide comments and recommendations for reforms, and encourage active participation of the public in the accession process.

On the other hand, Fuga clarified that the challenges and developments in the monitoring process vary for each candidate country. Some challenges may involve the lack of transparency and comprehensive information for the public, difficulties in monitoring the candidate country’s progress, and political influence in the integration process. Positive developments include increased participation of civil society in monitoring and reporting the process, increased transparency and comprehensiveness of information, and improved dialogue and cooperation between the candidate country and EU institutions.
Lastly, in this workshop, an open discussion was held regarding the attendees’ statements on the current situation of Albania in the context of European integration and the implementation of reforms, specifically concerning the negotiation process and how informed and involved they feel about this topic.