The European Council has decided to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. During the meeting, which was held as a video conference because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU foreign ministers endorsed the proposal unanimously by a written procedure.
“The European Council finally succeeded to give an answer to the expectations of the Western Balkan countries and their citizens, who have been waiting long for something positive to happen. This act is even more significant now. Not because we overcame the disappointment of the Council’s decision in October, but because Europe and the world are currently in an unprecedented situation. The green light to start the accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania shows that Europe can take decisions in times of crisis”, MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk pointed out.
According to Kyuchyuk, who is the European Parliament’s Standing rapporteur on North Macedonia and an active supporter of the EU enlargement process, especially when it comes to the countries of the Western Balkans, we cannot afford to leave the region alone at this critical moment.
“Together with some of the MEP colleagues, we have asked the European Commission to propose effective measures for supporting the Western Balkans in their fight against the coronavirus. I am pleased that this issue was also discussed at the Council meeting, as urgent decisions need to be taken and funding needs to be provided to the region. We must strive to respond to the humanitarian and civil protection opportunities. Only then will we be able to overcome this pandemic”, Kyuchyuk added.
The adopted Council decision sets out the conditions that the two countries need to meet before the convening of the so-called “intergovernmental conferences” which formally start the negotiations. Emphasis is also placed on the new methodology which should be used for the negotiation process. According to the document, EU enlargement will be “subject to stronger political steering, based on objective criteria and conditions, as well as reversibility of the whole process”.