Political & economic relations

In December 2005, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was granted candidate country status for EU membership. On 18 February 2008 the Council adopted the Accession Partnership pdf - 101 KB [101 KB] for the country, thus updating the previous European Partnership of January 2006. A visa free travel for citizens of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Schengen area was granted on 19 December 2009.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was the first among the Western Balkans countries that signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on 9 April 2001 and entered into force on 1 April 2004. An Interim Agreement, covering trade and trade-related aspects, entered into force in June 2001.

The EU is the main trading partner of the country, accounting for 60% of the country's exports and 48% of imports. The Western Balkan region (or the new CEFTA region) is the other main trading partner, representing 35% of the country's exports and 11% of its imports. The export structure remains highly concentrated on a few products, the most important being ferro-nickel, iron and steel, and textile products. The main imports are crude oil, electricity, flat-rolled iron and steel products and vehicles.

The Lisbon European Council of March 2000 stated that Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) with the Western Balkan countries, which involve the establishment of Free Trade Areas, should be preceded by asymmetrical trade liberalisation. The SAA aims to improve the existing autonomous trade preferences, and provide autonomous trade liberalisation for 95% of the SAA countries' exports to EU. This exceptional measure entered into force for all countries participating to the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) on 1 December 2000 and it is subject to the commitment of the countries concerned to engage in both effective economic reform and regional trade co-operation.