During a visit to Albania, the European Commissioner for Migration signed a draft agreement on border management between the EU and the Western Balkan country.

The Commission welcomes the initiative and defines it as a sign of strengthening the security of the EU’s external borders.

Under the agreement, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) could establish a mission in Albania in the event of a sudden wave of migrants.

“Albania now has the historic opportunity to connect its future with the EU,” Commissioner Dimitris Aramopoulos said after signing. “This agreement will allow the future deployment in Albania of EU Border and Coast Guard Teams”

Avramopolus added that Albania must continue in the fight against crime and corruption and that the EU will provide support for Tirana against drug trafficking.

Brussels hopes for the agreement to serve as an example of similar agreements with other countries in the region, such as Montenegro and Serbia.

Albania has a border with Greece, which is a member of the EU. The country itself is a candidate for European membership and hopes to start negotiations later this year. Tirana submitted an application for EU membership on 24 April 2009 and on 16 November 2009. The Council approved the application and invited the European Commission to give its opinion.

In June 2014 The Commission published a report on Albania’s progress in the reform of the judiciary system and the fight against corruption and organized crime. At its meeting on 26 and 27 June 2014, following the publication of this report, the European Council decided to give Albania candidate status.

Both sides also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to assist police authorities in combating drug trafficking.

Since 2014, the government has caught hundreds of tons of drugs and destroyed millions of plants. Prime Minister Edi Rama’s government described the fight against illegal marijuana production in the country as the main goal.

In parallel, Bulgaria expressed hope that Albania will be able to start accession talks with the EU during the Bulgarian presidency. Sofia’s conclusion is that Albania must reform its judiciary system and implement the new action plan against organized crime and the law on the protection of national minorities.