Green light on EU accession talks with N. Macedonia, Albania

Commissioner Varhelyi: The Commission will prepare the negotiation framework very quickly

The Council of the EU took a political agreement on Tuesday to open EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. At a video conference of the General Affairs Council in a written procedure, the ministers endorsed the proposal unanimously. This was the only item on the agenda of the meeting.

Saying this is a historic news for the two countries, Andreja Metelko-Zgombić, Croatian State Secretary for European Affairs explained that the written procedure to be finalised on Wednesday as to be available for final approval by the EU leaders during their “videoconference summit” on Thursday.

Oliver Varhelyi, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement stated that he is very pleased that EU member states reached political agreement on opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. This also sends a loud and clear message to Western Balkans: your future is in EU, he stated adding that in these challenging times “EU shows that is ready to make strategic decisions even in difficult circumstances”.

Commissioner Varhelyi said as well that the Commission will prepare the negotiations framework very quickly. At the same time we work hard to support  WesternBalkans in  Coronavirus oubreak response, he stressed noting that the EU has mobilised €30 m for quick support for medical equipment and is considering as well measures to mitigate negative economic impact of this crisis.

The Commission report issued three weeks ago on the progress made by Tirana and Skopje shows that the two countries delivered further tangible and sustainable results.

Concerning Albania, the update outlines progress in the implementation of justice reform and the vetting process of judges and prosecutors, on the track record demonstrated in the fight against corruption and organised crime, including when it comes to cannabis cultivation and hard drugs trafficking. It also points to other relevant issues, such as agreement on the way forward to electoral reform and efforts to tackle unfounded asylum claims.

For North Macedonia, the update covers significant steps taken to strengthen independence of judiciary, including the recent adoption of the revised law on the Public Prosecutor's Office. It shows an improved track record in the fight against corruption and organised crime as well as progress in the reform of intelligence services and public administration.

 

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