Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs call on EU member states to stand to their commitments and enable the Council to formally start accession negotiations with North Macedonia.
In the Committee’s report on the 2019-2020 Commission reports on North Macedonia adopted on Tuesday, MEPs stress that the EU should show clear political will and hold the first Intergovernmental Conference with North Macedonia, which would formally mark the start of the accession negotiations. This should be done as soon as possible to prevent further delays, “confirming the credibility, objectivity and reliability of the accession process”, but also in order to prevent further delays from harming the reconciliation that has been achieved in the region. MEPs urge the authorities and political parties of North Macedonia to sustain their joint efforts to strengthen democracy, to continue to fight against corruption, and to reinforce the rule of law, good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation while improving the climate for media freedom and civil society.
Bilateral issues with neighbouring countries
North Macedonia has shown clear strategic focus and commitment to integrating into the EU, as it continues to implement accession-related reforms and work on resolving bilateral issues with neighbouring countries, say MEPs. MEPs recall North Macedonia’s cooperative and constructive approach throughout the negotiations on the Prespa agreement with Greece and the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, and regret that Bulgaria and North Macedonia have yet to agree on pending bilateral issues. Continued dialogue is crucial, they stress, and call on the two countries to reach a compromise over an action plan that includes concrete measures.
Alignment with the Common Foreign and Security Policy
MEPs welcome North Macedonia’s accession to the NATO alliance on 27 March 2020. They also invite the country to continue increasing its alignment with the Common Foreign and Security Policy, in particular regarding the restrictive measures against Russia. They express their concern that the country is becoming increasingly energy- and economically dependent on third countries.
The rapporteur Ilhan Kyuchyuk (Renew, BG) said: “We have reached a broad compromise and have agreed that it is crucial to find a solution to the pending bilateral matters and the implementation of the Treaty of Good Neighbourly Relations between North Macedonia and Bulgaria. The final text sends North Macedonia a strong signal regarding its future in the EU and calls for the intergovernmental conference (IGC) to be held as soon as possible in order to prevent further delays.” The report was adopted by 61 votes for,4 against and 2 abstentions. The vote took place on Thursday, with results announced on Friday.