The European Border and Coast Guard Agency has initialled a draft agreement for operational co-operation with Albania.
The agreement will allow the agency to be quickly deployed to Albanian territory, to provide assistance in external border management in the event of a sudden shift in migratory flows. The deal to expand operational co-operation with Albania is part of a wider strategy to increase the European Commission’s engagement with the Western Balkans.
The draft agreement is the first negotiation to have been agreed between the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and any of the Western Balkan states. Negotiations are also underway with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, with the aim of developing similar arrangements.
The deal has been seen by some as a recognition of the progress made in Albania’s path towards accession to the EU. For the EU, it will provide the opportunity to better manage irregular migration and enhance security at its external borders through stronger operational co-operation with Albania and other priority third countries.
What will happen now?
The draft agreement was initialled by European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos and Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Albania, Fatmir Xhafaj. The deal must now be endorsed by member states. Following this, and once both parties complete necessary legal procedures, a formal signing of the agreement will be held.
Avramopoulos welcomed the agreement, saying: “I would like to thank the Albanian authorities for the fruitful negotiations and their commitment to reaching an agreement so quickly. Albania is a frontrunner in the region, and the agreement will serve as a role model for similar arrangements we are negotiating with other partners in the Western Balkans.”
Once it enters into force, the agreement will mean that the European Border and Coast Guard Agency can carry out operational activities and deploy teams into the regions of Albania that border the EU.