After the Second World War, Albania became a communist country and remained isolationist until its transition to democracy in 1990. The 1992 elections ended 47 years of communist rule, but the latter-half of the decade saw a quick turnover of presidents and prime ministers. The transition has proven difficult as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, organised crime networks and a disruptive political environment.
Since the fall of communism in 1990-91, Albania has launched economic programmes leading towards a more open-market economy.
Albania is a potential candidate for EU accession following the Thessaloniki European Council of June 2003. It signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU in June 2006. The agreement entered into force on 1 April 2009.
Albania submitted its application for EU membership in April 2009. The Commission adopted its Opinion on the application in November 2010. The Commission considers that negotiations for accession to the European Union should be opened with Albania once the country has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria. In this regard, Albania needs to meet in particular a number of key priorities.
Albania benefits from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) out of which Albania will receive 401.1 million euros during the period 2007-2012. From 2001 until 2007, the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) programme was the main EU assistance instrument for Albania, amounting to 282.1 million euros.