The EU commission has recommended the opening of accession negotiations for Albania and North Macedonia to join the European Union for, saying that the two countries have complied with the reforms requested of them by Brussels.
“The European perspective continues in the Balkans and this must not be underestimated and taken for granted,” said the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, at a press conference to present the annual report on the policy of community expansion.
Albania and North Macedonia, in particular, “took the opportunity and complied with reforms, particularly in areas identified as crucial,” according to the report. Thus, in the light of the “significant progress achieved and the relevant conditions fulfilled”, the Commission “today recommends that the Council (the countries) open access negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.”
The Commission also published an opinion on status of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application to join the EU, saying that negotiations should be initiated with Sarajevo once it achieves “the necessary degree of compliance with the criteria” for membership of the EU. More work needs to be done by Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights among a raft of other reforms, according to Brussels.
With regard to Turkey, the Commission noted that dialogue and cooperation will continue in areas of common interest such as migration management and support for refugees. However, Brussels said that Ankara “has continued to move away from the EU”, with a “serious setback” in the rule of law and fundamental rights, “without forgetting the weakening of effective checks and balances in the political system”, as a consequence of the entry into force of controversial constitutional reforms, it added.