The European Union has granted Albania candidate status to join the bloc.
The bloc's enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fuele, said on Twitter on June 24: "Congratulations on candidate status just agreed."
Fuele described the move as "acknowledgement of reform efforts, encouragement for more."
In December, the EU asked the Balkan state to show tangible results in fighting corruption and organized crime and consolidating the rule of law.
Tirana will have to meet requirements in tackling crime and corruption and bringing its justice system and administration up to European standards, before eventually gaining EU membership.
Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said, "It's not an end of the journey, but hopefully a good beginning."
Prime Minister Edi Rama's Socialist party, which came to power in 2013, has pledged to push for EU integration.
Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa