Foreign Affairs Committee Chair welcomes EU member states’ decision to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.

Following the Council of Ministers’ decision to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister (EPP, DE) said:
“In the midst of a crisis, the EU has overcome divisions and demonstrated a genuine solidarity with our friends and partners. I welcome the belated decision to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, while regretting that we had to wait till now for this important step.
Now is the time to continue our joint work under the enhanced enlargement methodology, and pursue together the broader goal of EU integration, namely that of ensuring peace, stability, solidarity and freedom in Europe. The EU must also ensure proper, flexible and efficient support under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).
In the context of the COVID-19 emergency, I welcome proposals on extending the EU Solidarity Fund to cover major health emergencies, while urging to open it to all the Western Balkan countries. We must take the necessary additional action to strengthen public health systems and mitigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis in the Western Balkans.”

Next steps

After the EU Ministers for European Affairs have reached an agreement on Tuesday, the decision has still to be approved by EU Heads of states and governments on Thursday.

Background

After the European Council had again failed to agree on opening EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia at the summit on 17-18 October 2019, the European Parliament reacted with the resolution expressing its disappointment and stressing that both countries have met the requirements to start membership negotiations.

In February, the European Commission published its revised enlargement methodology that should make the process of joining the EU smoother but also reversible if the candidate countries do not fulfil their obligations. The EU countries that opposed to the opening of negotiations also got further assurances that the fundamental areas such as judiciary, human rights, public administration, the rule of law, media freedom, governance and fight against corruption are being taken seriously.