EU: Judicial reform 'essential' for Albania's accession

The European Union has reminded Albania that judicial reform is "essential" in its bid to launch membership negotiations.

A statement Wednesday from the EU-Albania delegation meeting — EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini meeting with Albania's Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati and his delegation — in Brussels said that judicial reform "could be transformative for other reforms" and the fight against corruption and organized crime.

Judicial corruption has plagued post-communist Albania, hampering its democratic processes. A justice system reform approved last year, aiming to ensure that judges and prosecutors are independent from politics, and to root out bribery, has just started its vetting, checking judges' personal and professional backgrounds.

Albania, a NATO member since 2009, was granted EU candidate status in 2014 and hopes to launch negotiations next year.