The Parliament urges the Council to open negotiations on EU membership with Albania and North Macedonia, especially in the geostrategic context of war in Ukraine.
In two reports adopted on Thursday, which assess Albania and North Macedonia’s progress on the path towards EU membership, the Parliament asks the Council to officially start accession negotiations with these two countries, noting the geostrategic context of relations with Russia and its aggression against Ukraine. MEPs call 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.
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.
Albania – a reliable and committed strategic partner
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 (S&D, PT) 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.
North Macedonia – The best democratic transition record across the Western Balkan region
Parliament praises 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 notes 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
“North Macedonia demonstrated the best democratic transition record across the Western Balkan region and is fully aligned with the EU’s foreign policy in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Considering the broader geostrategic context and that the country has delivered sustained results, we call for long overdue accession negotiations to officially start. I welcome the positive engagement to resolve pending bilateral issues and urge Bulgaria and North Macedonia to promptly find a mutually acceptable solution,” said the rapporteur Ilhan Kyuchyuk.
The report was adopted by 508 votes in favour, 56 against and 35 abstentions.