Posted on May 26, 2022
In two reports adopted on Thursday, which assess Albania and North Macedonia’s progress on the path towards EU membership, the Parliament asked the European Council to officially start accession negotiations with these two countries, noting the geostrategic context of relations with Russia and its aggression against Ukraine.
MEPs called on the EU to critically assess the historically important security implications of such a decision for stability and unity on the European continent and the Western Balkans.
- Failure to act could have historically important security implications for Europe’s stability
- Both countries have met the conditions and delivered sustained results
- Bulgaria and North Macedonia encouraged to swiftly resolve pending bilateral issues
Even though both countries have fulfilled the conditions set by the European Council and delivered sustained results, Council has failed to open accession negotiations with them, MEPs say. This has undermined public attitude towards the EU and is a serious danger to enlargement policy as a whole, states the report. MEPs also encourage Bulgaria and North Macedonia to solve their cultural-historical dispute separately from North Macedonia’s accession process.
MEPs commend Albania’s strategic orientation and unwavering commitment to European integration, and express their clear support for the country’s democratic transformation and aspiration for EU membership. They urge Albania to maintain and intensify its efforts to make the judiciary function more efficiently, to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and the economy. It should also empower civil society, counter corruption and organised crime, ensure media freedom and guarantee the protection of minority rights, including the LGBTQI community.
The EP rapporteur for Albania Isabel Santos MEP said: “Albania remains a fully reliable and committed strategic partner. It continues to move forward with fundamental EU-related reforms and is fulfilling and maintaining conditions for starting accession talks. It is only fair that the Council finally agrees to open long-overdue negotiations with Albania, not least in the face of mounting geostrategic challenges."
The report was adopted by 519 votes in favour, 52 against and 28 abstentions.
Parliament praised North Macedonia’s continuous efforts to strengthen the rule of law, judicial independence and minority rights, counter corruption and organised crime, reform its public administration and consolidate media freedom. The report also noted the risks of increasing economic and energy dependence on China and Russia, and warns that dependence on China-funded investment loans increases the region’s vulnerability.
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