Albania’s parliament Friday adopted a key judicial reform to fight corruption and organised crime, a major step in its progress towards European Union membership.

 

A NATO member since 2009 and a candidate to join EU since 2014, Albania was asked by Brussels to overhaul its graft-plagued justice system to join the bloc.

 

All 140 lawmakers voted for the reform which had been blocked for months as the opposition was opposed to foreigners being included in a body tasked with examining candidates for magistrates.

 

A political agreement was eventually reached following strong international pressure and even threat by the chairman of the German parliament’s EU Affairs Committee, Gunther Krichbaum, to revoke country’s EU candidate status.

 

The EU hailed the vote as a “historic decision,” praising “the maturity and responsibility” of country’s political forces.

 

“It is also a major contribution to the fight against corruption and organised crime. These are all key priorities for Albania on its path towards integration into the EU,” the bloc’s delegation in Tirana said in a statement.

 

The reform will see judges and prosecutors appointed on merit and without political influence through a body composed of international experts. The candidates should then be approved by a two-third parliamentary majority.