MEPs urge the Council to stop delaying EU accession talks further, 8 December 2020

In the run-up to next meeting of European Affairs ministers today, MEPs call on the Council to approve the negotiating frameworks for North Macedonia and Albania.

In the statement on North Macedonia and Albania, signed by more than 20 MEPs, representatives of political groups urge all parties involved to find a solution to ensure that accession negotiations will begin before the end of the year.

Warning that current hold-up in accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania is jeopardizing the European Union's credibility in the Western Balkans, they call on Bulgaria and North Macedonia to find a compromise on pending bilateral issues to avoid delaying the accession process any further.

Bulgaria should approve the opening of the intergovernmental conference (IGC) with North Macedonia as soon as possible and in any case in December, thereby acknowledging the country's efforts in the EU accession process. North Macedonia, in its role as a future accession country, should also make every effort possible from its side to resolve the outstanding issues, stress MEPs in their statement.

Albania also deserves to move forward on its path to EU accession, say MEPs, pointing to its comprehensive efforts to reform, in particular in the justice sector, over the last few years, as well as the Commission's positive assessment. They add that effort is also needed by Albania in several areas, on its way to meet all the conditions laid out in the Council Conclusions.

You can read the full statement and the list of signatories here.

The stakes are high for Albania, warn leading MEPs, 17 July 2020

In a joint statement, the three MEPs send a firm message: If Albania wants to start the accession negotiations, it has to fulfill its commitments.

In a joint statement, the Foreign Affairs Committee Chair David McAllister (EPP, DE), the standing Rapporteur for Albania Isabel Santos (S&D, PT) and the Chair of the Parliament´s Delegation for Albania Manolis Kefalogiannis (EPP, EL) urged the Parliament of Albania to swiftly adopt the 5 June Agreement on Electoral Reform

"We expect that the parliamentary majority will adopt the necessary changes without undermining the consensus reached between the Government and the Opposition on 5 June. It is important to reach an agreement, maintaining the dialogue and consensus with all political parties, so that the first conference for membership negotiations can be convened, and therefore continue the European integration process.

Each country is free to set and improve its electoral system according to the national context and consensus. However, best international practices recommend that any changes to the electoral system should be conducted in a comprehensive and transparent manner starting at least one year before the next planned elections. We believe that Albania will respect these recommendations and will work further towards achieving sustainable results in the key reform areas.

The European Parliament is committed to support Albania on its European integration path and is ready to work with the Albanian Parliament in facilitating dialogue and building consensus on the crucial reforms in the areas of democracy, rule of law and accountability that are necessary for the country's EU future." (...)

The full text of the press release in the below link.

Westerns Balkans summit must bring step-change and strengthen democracy, 5 May 2020

The Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, delegation chairs and standing rapporteurs for the Western Balkans countries confirm EU´s commitment to continue transforming the region.

In a joint statement, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the standing rapporteurs and the chairs of delegations of the European Parliament for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia welcome the Western Balkans summit of 6 May as an opportunity to reconfirm the EU's historical, political and financial commitment to the region. They consider the summit to also be an opportunity for the Western Balkans participants to affirm their adherence to the rule of law, democracy and continued reforms.

"We welcome the virtual Western Balkans summit, which can deepen ties between the EU and Southeastern Europe.

It shows that any hurdle can be overcome in the commitment to the enlargement process and that fully-fledged EU membership is the ultimate goal. Such public expressions of solidarity are more important than ever, as disinformation campaigns attempt to create divisions.

During these difficult times, the European Parliament stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its Western Balkans partners and we reaffirm our unprecedented political, financial and medical assistance to the people of the region." (...)

The full text of the press release in the below link.

Opening accession negotiations with Albania

Statement by Mr Manolis Kefalogiannis, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Albania Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC):

On 24 March 2020, the General Affairs Council gave its political approval to open accession negotiations with Albania. I would like to congratulate the Albanian authorities and the Albanian people for this long-awaited and well-deserved decision.

To reach this moment, Albania has consistently delivered essential reforms and shown a true commitment towards EU integration. We are all aware that the path towards full accession is still long and that the country needs to continue delivering on key reforms in order to meet the pre-conditions to open accession talks, in line with the Council conclusions of 25 March 2020. Nevertheless, I am convinced that the determination of Albanian authorities, the opposition forces, the civil society and the support of the Albanian people will contribute to the success of this endeavour.

I would like to underline the key role of the Albanian parliament in driving the accession process forward and to offer the full support and cooperation of the European Parliament to this end. The SAPC will continue to be an essential platform to address the challenges and opportunities ahead and to help to bring together the governing forces and the opposition to adopt the reforms the country needs.

This decision comes at a difficult time, as Albania, as the rest of Europe, is tackling the devastating effects of the COVID-19. The EU stands ready to help Albania and the other Western Balkan countries in addressing this pandemia, by mobilising funds and opening, whenever possible, EU programmes to their participation. But, the decision also comes at a crucial time for the EU enlargement policy, when a new methodology has just been adopted that will make the process more predictable and transparent and just a few weeks ahead of the Zagreb Summit which should give this policy a new impetus.

Failure to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia is a mistake

24 October 2019

In a resolution adopted on Thursday, the European Parliament stresses that both countries meet the requirements to start negotiations.

Parliament expresses deep disappointment over the failure to agree on opening EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia at the EU summit on 17-18 October.

MEPs regret the move by France, Denmark and the Netherlands to block the decision and say that Albania and North Macedonia have made considerable efforts over the last few years and meet the EU's criteria to start membership talks.

Praising North Macedonia's efforts to settle difficult bilateral issues with its neighbouring countries, MEPs also welcome recent judiciary reforms in Albania. (...)

The full text of the press release in the below link.

Interparliamentary delegations start establishing their bureaus, 26 September 2019

Delegations are electing their bureaus, each of them consisting of a Chair and two Vice-Chairs.

At the constitutive meetings on Thursday, 26 September, most of 44 interparliamentary delegations of the European Parliament decided on their Chairs and Vice-Chairs. Once the elections have taken place, the names of the new Bureaus' members will be published on the Delegations' website. (Check the respective homepage of each delegation.)

Interparliamentary delegations maintain relations and conduct policy dialogues with parliamentarians in other countries, regions and organisations to promote the EU's core values: liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

There are 44 standing interparliamentary delegations in this legislative period, the same number as in the last parliamentary term. Most of them have the same structure: they have a Chair and two Vice-Chairs, except for delegations to parliamentary assemblies (such as ACP, Eurolat, Euromed and Euronest), which are led by larger bureaus. Parliament's diversity in terms of geography and gender must be reflected in the composition of the bureau of each delegation; it shall not be permissible to have an all-male or all-female bureau or for both of the vice-chairs to come from the same member state (Rule 223 and Rule 213).