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TIRANA (Albania), November 30 (SeeNews) - The European Parliament said it endorsed the path set out by the Council to open EU accession negotiations with Albania in June 2019, provided that the country meets all necessary conditions.
In a resolution on Albania's progress towards EU accession adopted by 459 votes to 112, with 62 abstentions, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) welcomed the country’s steady reform progress and the steps taken to boost the independence of the judiciary, the European Parliament said in a statement on Thursday.
In June, the Council said it agreed to respond positively to the progress made by Albania and Macedonia and set out the path for opening accession negotiations with both countries in June 2019.
"After 4 years of being recognised as an EU candidate country, it is about time for the EU to open accession negotiations with Albania. The country has made good progress in justice reform with the vetting process, which was one of the key demands. The fight against corruption is ongoing and with a measure of success," European Parliament rapporteur on Albania, Knut Fleckenstein, said.
"The vote on the report in the plenary today recognises their efforts. It is also a call on the Council and the member states to finally agree on opening accession negotiations with Albania in the next year," Fleckenstein added/
Despite the significant improvements made by Albania to strengthen its legal and institutional framework, as well as the progress achieved in the fight against organised crime, MEPs expressed concerns with the rule-of-law deficiencies and cumbersome regulatory procedures of the country which continue to deter investment, the European Parliament said.
The EU's enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn announced in July the official launch of the EU screening process with Albania as the first step toward the process of accession negotiations.
Albania has been an official candidate for joining the EU since June 2014.