Page last updated at 21:10 GMT, Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Debate on Albania

The EU's Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Füle has defended his recommendation to give Albania EU candidate status, but admitted the country needed to make further progress in political reform.

Speaking to MEPs on 12 December 2102, Mr Füle said that the onus was on the government in Tirane to deliver.

"Progress has been achieved but there is more to be done," he concluded.

Albania formally applied for EU membership in 2009, although it is not expected to join the union until 2015 at the very earliest.

Since December 2010, Albanians with biometric passports have been able to travel visa-free to the Schengen zone, which includes most EU countries, although not the UK and Ireland.

Albania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe with high unemployment and poor infrastructure.

There are also concerns over political corruption including allegations of vote-rigging in the 2009 parliamentary elections.

The recent progress report on Albania, published in October 2012, found that reforms of the country's civil service were continuing although more needed to be done to ensure the accountability and independence of the judiciary.

A vote on the progress report took place during the voting session on 13 December 2012.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.


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