WHEN DID ALBANIA APPLY FOR EU MEMBERSHIP?
Albania applied for EU membership for the first time in April 2009, with neighbouring Balkan country North Macedonia. In June 2014, it was granted EU candidate status.
Albania was set a few preconditions before beginning EU membership talks, such as reforming its judicial system and improving its human rights record. However, in April 2018, the European Commission gave an unequivocal recommendation to Albania to begin accession discussions.
Nonetheless, these talks were stymied in 2019 by France and the Netherlands due to concerns about Balkan migration. Despite this setback, Albania will continue to receive developmental aid from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, an EU candidate country funding mechanism, until 2020.
IS ALBANIA READY TO JOIN THE EU?
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi indicated in May 2021 that Brussels is contemplating proceeding with membership discussions with Albania. Despite the fact that the nation is still linked to North Macedonia in its membership proposal, and Bulgaria just denied North Macedonia’s request due to a linguistic disagreement,
Várhelyi emphasised that by “decoupling” the Albanian and North Macedonian ascension efforts, this impediment may be overcome. “The question is whether we can go just with Albania. And we will have to think about it “, he explained.
However, EU foreign affairs director Josep Borell quickly contradicted this notion, stressing that both nations’ ascension processes will be expedited. “There was never any intention of detaching both nations from the accession process,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, former Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati has proposed that the timeline for Albania’s EU entry will be considered during an inter-governmental summit in June.
DO ALBANIANS NEED A VISA FOR EUROPE?
Albanians do not require a visa to enter Europe. Albanian passport holders are not required to get a visa for short visits in any of the Schengen Area member states included on the Albania visa-free countries list.
Misinformation on the internet has caused some individuals to assume that the European Union was restoring visa restrictions for Albanian residents and that EU nations will be removed from the list of visa-free countries for Albanian passport holders.
The EU, on the other hand, has quickly dismissed these accusations, assuring Albanians that they may still enter the Schengen Area without a visa.
The source of the mistake appears to be a misunderstanding of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which is set to become live in November 2023.
Albanian people could previously enter an external EU border with only a valid passport and stay for up to 90 days. Citizens of all visa-exempt countries, including Albania, will be required to register with ETIAS before travelling to Europe beginning in 2023.
The European Union will not impose visas on Albania or any other third nation. Indeed, the European Union Delegation to Albania has said that “Albania is and will continue to be a visa-free destination for the EU.”