It is important to highlight that the EU accession process is very different from earlier enlargement rounds. The extensive EU requirements to measure progress using new and demanding instruments (such as opening, interim and closing benchmarks and related action plans) require the mobilization of all available resources, good coordination and exchange of information, constant in-depth monitoring and communication with the final
beneficiaries of the accession – citizens. CSOs do not often actively participate in or contribute to the European Union accession negotiation process. Their rather passive role is caused by irregular feedback from national authorities and neglect of CSOs’ contribution, an overall lack of transparency, an absence of trust in the established platforms for CSOs participation and a perceived lack of expertise in certain areas. An additional issue to be addressed is the inadequate and insufficient information provided to citizens, for which both national authorities and CSOs are responsible. The EU enlargement approach highlights that CSOs, as domestic non-state actors, should have a higher stake in the process. They could significantly contribute to improvements in policy-making and democratic practices. In practice, Albania follows the recommendations issued by the EU and takes stock of the lessons learned from the experiences of other Western Balkans countries (Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia).