Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

Brussels, 19 July 2022

Today the EU opened accession negotiations with Albania.

This follows a decision by the Council on 25 March 2020 to open accession negotiations, which was endorsed by the members of the European Council on 26 March 2020, as well as the approval by the Council on 18 July 2022 of the Negotiating Framework for the negotiations with Albania, in accordance with the revised enlargement methodology.

The EU delegation was headed by Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and the European Commission was represented by Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement. The delegation of Albania was led by Prime Minister Edi Rama.

We welcome the start of the accession negotiations with Albania. With Albania in the EU we would all be benefitting from a safer and more prosperous future.

Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

Albania is already a close partner of the EU in the Stabilisation and Association Process for the Western Balkans. The EU and Albania stood side by side during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also in the face of Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, and its impacts on the entire European continent. As stated by the Council on 14 December 2021, the EU delegation welcomed the continued determination of Albania to advance the EU reform agenda and deliver tangible and sustained results.

The EU delegation notes that the Commission has advanced its work to carry out and complete the process of analytical examination of the EU acquis and stands ready to present in due time its results to Albania. On this basis, it invites the Commission to continue to assess the state of preparedness of Albania for opening negotiations in specific areas and identify the issues that will most likely come up in the negotiations, starting with the fundamentals’ cluster, which in accordance with the Negotiating Framework, will be opened first once Albania has met the relevant criteria agreed by the Council.

The EU also highly welcomed the fact that Albania has fully aligned with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy decisions and declarations and encouraged Albania to continue to do so.

Source – EU Council

 


EU accession negotiations of North Macedonia: Intergovernmental conference at ministerial level

Brussels, 19 July 2022

Today the EU started the opening phase of the accession negotiations with North Macedonia.

This follows a decision by the Council on 25 March 2020 to open accession negotiations, which was endorsed by the members of the European Council on 26 March 2020, as well as the approval by the Council on 18 July 2022 of the Negotiating Framework for the negotiations with North Macedonia, in accordance with the revised enlargement methodology.

The EU delegation was headed by Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and the European Commission was represented by Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement. The delegation of North Macedonia was led by Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski.

Today’s launch of the accession negotiation process is a good day for North Macedonia and a good day for the EU. The start of the negotiations is to the mutual benefit of North Macedonia and the EU.

Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

North Macedonia is already a close partner of the EU in the Stabilisation and Association Process for the Western Balkans. The EU and North Macedonia stood side by side during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also in the face of Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, and its impacts on the entire European continent. As stated by the Council on 14 December 2021, the EU delegation welcomed the continued determination of North Macedonia to advance the EU reform agenda and deliver tangible and sustained results.

The EU delegation notes that the Commission has advanced its work to carry out and complete the process of analytical examination of the EU acquis and stands ready to present in due time its results to North Macedonia. On this basis, it invites the Commission to continue to assess the state of preparedness of North Macedonia for opening negotiations in specific areas and identify the issues that will most likely come up in the negotiations, starting with the fundamentals’ cluster, which in accordance with the Negotiating Framework, will be opened first once North Macedonia has met the relevant criteria agreed by the Council.

The EU also highly welcomed the fact that North Macedonia has fully aligned with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy decisions and declarations and encouraged North Macedonia to continue to do so.

Source – EU Council


EU Commission President von der Leyen on the start of the accession negotiations process of Albania and North Macedonia

Brussels, 19 July 2022

Dear Prime Minister Fiala, dear Petr,

Prime Minister Rama, dear Edi,

Prime Minister Kovachevski, dear Dimitar,

What a historic moment. Today, Albania and North Macedonia are opening the accession negotiations to the European Union, and I am so glad to be here with you. This is your success. It is your success and your citizens’ success. You and your citizens, you and your people have been working so hard to get here. You have shown so much enduring commitment to our values. You have demonstrated resilience. You maintained faith in the accession process. You strengthened the rule of law. You fought against corruption. You have free media. You have vibrant civil societies. You have done countless reforms and you have modernised your economies. You have made all these changes not just because they were necessary on your path towards the European Union, but above all because they are good for your countries. And they are already delivering a better quality of life for your people. We, the European Commission, have supported you all the way. And we will continue to do so.

Let me briefly reflect on three topics. First of all, on the negotiations: Right after the Intergovernmental Conference today, the Commission and the negotiation teams from Albania and North Macedonia will start to work. The screening of the EU acquis will start. This is the first step in the process. The screening will enable Albania and North Macedonia to get familiar with the rights and obligations of our Union. From treaties to legislation, to international agreements – you name it. And we will proceed very quickly with that.

My second point is: We will continue to get closer in key areas. For instance, Albania will now join the EU Civil Protection Mechanism– we already started the discussion last month. This will enhance Albania’s resilience to natural disasters like floods, forest fires, or earthquakes. Member States know – as some fight terrible fires as we speak right now in this very moment – that the European Union is always there to support when disasters strike.

North Macedonia will very soon negotiate with us the Frontex agreement. So it is about the deployment of Frontex to North Macedonia. This will strengthen our cooperation on migration. And, Dimitar, you can count on my support to ensure that the agreement is translated into the Macedonian language, no footnote, no asterisk, on an equal footing with all 24 EU languages.

My third point is that the benefits will accrue as you will advance with the negotiations. There will be a boost in investment. There will be improved trade links. There will be closer collaboration in key areas, like, for example, energy or transport. You will maximise the use and the impact of EU funding. This means new jobs, new business opportunities. This is what your citizens have been waiting for so long and have been working for so hard – and this is what they deserve.

Finally, Prime Minister Rama, dear Edi,

Prime Minister Kovachevski, dear Dimitar,

Let me address you personally: You have shown so much leadership, so much vision. You have shown strategic patience, Edi, in abundance. And not only but importantly in these challenging times of Russia’s brutal war, you have proven time and again your attachment to European values, as true friends and true partners. And I want to personally thank you for that.

Prime Minister Fiala, dear Petr,

Congratulations. Congratulations because the start of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia is a major deliverable right at the beginning of your Czech Presidency. It is building on the work of previous Presidencies. And I know that you will now play an important role to make sure that this process advances swiftly. The people of Albania and North Macedonia deserve it. And we will all stand to gain when one day we welcome Albania and North Macedonia as full-fledged members of our European Union.

Thank you.

Source – EU Commission

 


Intergovernmental Conference: EU High Representative Josep Borrell on North Macedonia

Brussels, 19 July 2022

Check against delivery!

Thank you, President [of the Council of the European Union, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Jan Lipavský].

Today marks a major breakthrough that will be crucial for North Macedonia, for the Western Balkans and for the European Union as a whole.

I was President of the European Parliament in 2005 when the Prime Minister of North Macedonia at that time, Vado Buckovski, received a positive opinion from the European Commission. It was in 2005, 17 years ago.

Today, we are finally starting the process. You have been working and waiting a lot for it.

We live [in] times of big geopolitical changes, tectonic changes. We are moving forward through strategic and historic decisions. Certainly, we stand at a crossroad of the history and we are, as I said, witnessing changes in our geostrategic environment – and you are a part of it. I strongly believe that we can only advance together, by fully integrating the Western Balkans in the European Union. We would not be complete without you.

The European Union was created to overcome divisions and to heal the wounds of war on our continent. The enduring value of the European Union, as a peace project among Europeans and as a strong actor in the international arena is to create security among us and uphold security worldwide, starting from our continent and projecting our values, more visibly than ever, in the whole world.

Today, North Macedonia is moving to the next stage on its path into the European Union.

We are living a critical momentum and this momentum has to be seized by North Macedonia to push ahead crucial reforms. And we will support you on that. The deep and comprehensive work of reaching European Union standards, through the accession process, will transform your society – it has been transforming all societies of the States that became Member [of the European Union], [and] bring tangible benefits for your citizens and on that long-delayed journey, we – the European Union – will support you in view of attempts by third powers to influence you, [by] building your resilience, and help you to address the consequences of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, which will be very visible on food and energy security.

We are also working to strengthen your military and defence capacities, including through the European Peace Facility that is playing such an important role at the moment. We will stand firmly with you, all the way.

Allow me to focus on the Common Foreign and Security Policy, [of] which I am in charge of developing.

North Macedonia is already 100% aligned with this Common Foreign and Security Policy. As I said at our meeting with all Western Balkans leaders in June here in Brussels, alignment with the European Union’s foreign policy and sanctions is not a technical exercise. And we do not take it for granted. It costs a lot and it comes with a cost. This is not a simple transaction of interests, but a relationship based on shared principles, values and goals. Your full alignment shows clearly the strategic direction that you have chosen.

Allow me a few remarks on identity. We are living [in] times of identity politics. Identity is a topic that has been discussed passionately over the past weeks, months, and years. On your path to the European Union, you will not lose your identity – none of us does. We have a complex multi-layered identity. North Macedonia with its identity, its own identity, its rich history and culture, has always been part of Europe. You do not need Council Conclusions to know that. Your identity will remain and it will be enriched by other identities which are not alternative, but complementary. The richness of the human being is to have several, all of them compatible.

And that is what, essentially, we are celebrating today.

We [the European Union] need you, we need North Macedonia in order to complete our complex identity . We need each other because we are stronger together.

Thank you.

Link to the video (starting at 11:05): https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-228754

Source – EEAS

 


Intergovernmental Conference: EU Council President Michel on the accession with North Macedonia and Albania

Brussels, 19 July 2022

Today, we have finally taken important steps forward in the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Intergovernmental Conferences at ministerial level were held in Brussels to implement the decision by the European Council of March 2020 to open accession talks. I congratulate the authorities and the citizens of North Macedonia and Albania for this long-awaited achievement.

I realise that the road to reach this point has been long and challenging. As I have seen first-hand, the debate was particularly intense in North Macedonia, but has ultimately led to a positive vote in the national parliament, the Sobranie. Macedonians, today your country is taking the first key step on the path of negotiations with the European Union. As I said in Skopje a few days ago, North Macedonia can count on my full support on this journey. The country has undertaken important reforms and I know Macedonians are committed to our common EU future.

I am also pleased that Albania’s negotiations’ path is now on its way. Albania has worked hard to ensure results from reforms and a track record of implementation in all areas identified by the Council. Today is a historic day and a time to celebrate what has been achieved, but also a time to look at the challenges ahead with a clear objective: to advance on the EU path without delay.

Today’s holding of IGCs unlocks the next phase for both Albania and North Macedonia. The screening process will now start, not only the updated explanatory screening, but also bilateral screenings. Hard work lies ahead for our negotiators, in Skopje, Tirana and Brussels, in this crucial phase. In the coming months, this will build a solid basis for the opening of the clusters of negotiating chapters.

In parallel, the EU will focus on re-energising the enlargement process. At the EU-Western Balkans leaders’ meeting and the June European Council, we decided to inject a new dynamic and a new determination to move forward together. We will further advance the gradual integration of the EU and the region, already during the enlargement process. The Western Balkans belong in the EU, and we need to make this happen. Our future is together, and the future of our children will be more prosperous and safe as we advance our project of shared values.

Source – EU Council