Albania parliament passes judiciary reform key to EU accession

Albania's governing and opposition parties passed a judicial reform package on Thursday, meeting a condition of the European Union for accession talks with the ex-communist Balkan state, Reuters reported.

The constitutional package revamping the judiciary received unanimous approval in the 140-member chamber, seen as crucial to giving the reform a solid foundation. A consensus on the package had collapsed overnight and was rebuilt since morning, Reuters said.

The European Union wants the reform "to have teeth" to ensure it can make the country's judiciary independent, capable of fighting endemic corruption and ending impunity for politicians.

Hailing the vote, the EU said the reform would give citizens an "accountable, independent and transparent" judiciary and contribute to the fight against organised crime and corruption.

"These are all key priorities for Albania on its path toward integration into the EU", Reuters cited the EU's Albania office as saying.

"Now it is important that the implementation of the reform starts immediately, with the view that the people of Albania are served by a justice system that is firmly based on European standards", it added in a statement after the package passed.

Approved by 91 percent of Albanians angry with corrupt judges, the deal remained elusive after 18 months of talks with EU and U.S. officials, prompting Washington to warn of "severe, long-lasting" consequences if the reform was sunk.

Since NATO member Albania became a candidate to join the EU in June 2014, Brussels demanded it do more to tackle crime and corruption, public administration and human and property rights, but set reforming the judiciary as its top priority.

The passage of the reform package is seen as remarkable considering that some Albanian leaders, who in the past have escaped corruption convictions on technicalities from friendly judges, could be threatened by an independent judiciary, Reuters reported.

Last update: Fri, 22/07/2016 - 12:12

More from Balkan

EU's Georgieva returns to World Bank after missing out on top UN post

European Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva, who missed out earlier this month on the top job at the...

Serbian president confident new Croatian gov't won't repeat past mistakes

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said on Friday he believed that Croatia's new government would build Belgrade-...

Plenkovic's meetings in Sarajevo reflect understanding and desire for greater cooperation

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Friday pledged support for efforts for achieving full equality of Bosnia and...

Montenegro premier "needs to rest" after quarter-century in power

Montenegro’s longtime Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said that the need for rest led him to leave government after...

Plenkovic: Croatia will intensify cooperation with Bosnia

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Sarajevo on Friday at the start of a two-day official visit to...