EU postpones decision on opening accession negotiations with Albania, North Macedonia
The European Union has decided to postpone until October its decision on whether or not to open negotiations for the accession of North Macedonia and Albania at a meeting in the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
“The Council will come back to this issue with a view to reaching a clear decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019,” the bloc’s EU Affairs Ministers said in a statement.
While the majority of Member States are ready to open negotiations with both candidate countries, France, the Netherlands and Denmark have expressed their opposition to their accession process, with Germany also voicing its reservations.
The EU already postponed its decision on the opening of negotiations in 2018, demanding further reforms from Albania in its fight against corruption and that Macedonia solve its dispute with Greece over the name of the country.
The agreement reached between Athens and Skopje to resolve that historic dispute in January was seen as a major step forward for the country that would pave the way for the accession talks to begin.
Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, expressed his disappointment that this was not the position taken by all Member States: “It is regrettable that a minority of Member States have not been able to support the clear proposal of the Commission to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Our collective credibility is at stake and our incentives and leverage to implement ambitious reforms in the region are also at stake. “
EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Federica Mogherini, has argued that negotiations should start “as soon as possible” and “without delay” with both Albania and Northern Macedonia because “they are ready” arguing that not doing so would have “important consequences” for both countries but “above all for the credibility” of the enlargement process in the EU. “It is not enlargement, it is a process of reunification of the continent,” she added.