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The country was the first Western Balkan nation to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, which entered into force in April 2004. The SAA aims to liberalise trade for 95% of exports to the EU.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee of the EU and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was established in 2004. The Committee looks at all aspects of relations between the two parties, particularly the implementation of the SAA.
The Republic of North Macedonia was granted candidate country status for EU membership in December 2005.
In February 2008, the EU adopted the Accession Partnership for the country, which updated the previous European Partnership agreement of January 2006.
Citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia were granted visa-free travel to the Schengen area in December 2009.
The EU is the North Macedonia’s main trading partner, accounting for 60% of the country's exports and 48% of its imports.
Exports from the country are centred around a few products, the most important being: ferro-nickel alloys, iron and steel, and textiles.
The main imports are crude oil, electricity, flat-rolled iron and steel products, and vehicles.
Some of the EU’s key programmes and initiatives to support the growth of businesses and the wider economy are open to companies based in the Republic of North Macedonia, including:
Civil society organisations can help to drive reforms in candidates for EU membership like the Republic of North Macedonia. Their work can determine the pace and quality of efforts to join the Community – and generate public support for accession.
Much of the responsibility for strengthening the role and influence of civil society organisations lies with individual countries. However, the EU also plays a role. It provides financial assistance to civil society projects through its Instrument for Pre-accession (IPA).
The EU also boosts civil society actions by:
The EU established the Civil Society Facility in 2008 to support the development of civil society in South Eastern Europe.
Established under the IPA, the Facility provides financial assistance to civil society organisations in North Macedonia so that they can:
The Civil Society Facility also embraces:
In addition, a IPA Multi-beneficiary Programme has been designed to respond to regional needs, including those of civil society.
The Republic of North Macedonia wants to become member of the EU. To help achieve this goal, the EU provides continuous support and financial assistance so that the country can undertake any necessary reforms.
Since 2007, the Instrument for Pre-accession (IPA) has enabled the country to focus on making changes in five key areas:
Between 2007-2013, the EU provided the country with €622 million through the IPA. (The country also benefited from the regionally focused IPA Multi-beneficiary Programme.)
IPA II is now providing similar assistance between 2014 and 2020, through a funding allocation of €664.2 million.
The EU also offers support through the TAIEX instrument, which helps partner countries become acquainted with, apply and enforce EU laws.
TAIEX funds short-term technical assistance, advice and training.
TAIEX assistance is open to:
In addition, the TAIEX Local Administration Facility (LAF) supports seminars on key EU policies which have an impact at local level for both elected members and permanent officials of local and regional authorities.