Recognizing Albania’s recent governmental reforms, the European Union officially named Albania a candidate for membership, the first step for the country to join the EU. The move came after Britain and France agreed to drop their opposition to Albania’s candidacy, citing new leadership in Albania that has promised to reform the country. Led by Prime Minister Edi Rama, the government has begun to fight against corruption and crime which has ravaged the country for many years. Police forces have started efforts to retake control in areas dominated by drug cartels, and the government has pushed for reform in the country’s economic structure.
Albania has dealt with years of corruption and mismanagement, going back to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The country has struggled in its transition to capitalism, leading it to lag behind several of its neighboring Balkan countries. After three failed attempts, the elevation of Albania to candidate status is seen as a big step for the country, as it shows that other European countries are noticing Albania’s attempts to fix the problems plaguing the nation. Membership in the EU would be huge for Albania and its businesses, placing the country in a powerful group of countries that combine to form the world's largest economy.
While this is indeed a step in the right direction for Albania, the road to membership in the European Union could be very long. With 28 members, some EU leaders have expressed concerns over further expansion. These leaders want to make sure that new members will grow the EU, and have expressed concerns over Albania’s small economy. Albania also has to contend with five other countries which are candidates for membership, most notably Turkey which became a candidate 15 years ago. So even with the country’s recent reforms and the encouraging move into candidate status, Albania is a far way off membership in the EU. Albania will have to continue to press on in the fight against crime, while also starting to tackle issues such as immigration and democratic reform.