EU Enlargement & Neighbourhood

A clear EU path ahead for Tirana and Skopje

29/06/2018 - 17:32
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This week, the EU institutions and Member States reaffirmed their unequivocal support to the European perspective of the Western Balkans. While recognising the progress achieved, they underlined the continued need to focus on fundamental reforms.

“The doors of our Union are open. Your path towards the European Union has become irreversible. It is now up to you to walk forward on this path towards a future of common prosperity and security”, High Representative / Vice-president Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn wrote in joint opinion editorials in the media in Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  “It is the free and sovereign decision of your people – of no one else. Our dream of a united European continent lies in your hands.”

“We have immediately started work on this new, common chapter, with the European Commission launching preparations for the accession talks”, they wrote.

This follows the meeting of the General Affairs Council which this week agreed to positively respond to the progress made by the two countries and set out the path towards opening accession negotiations with them in June 2019. The Council reaffirmed its commitment to enlargement, which remains a key policy of the European Union, and continues to represent a strategic investment in peace, democracy, prosperity, security and stability in Europe. In the Western Balkans, a solid track of reforms in rule of law, fundamental rights, and democratic institutions among others, and concrete tangible results in these areas remain essential, the Council underlined.

Furthermore, at the European Council, the EU leaders endorsed the conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association process adopted by the Council on 26 June. They also strongly welcomed and supported the agreement reached between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece on the name issue. “This, together with the agreement between Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighbourliness, and Cooperation, sets a strong example for others in the region to strengthen good neighbourly relations”, the conclusions read.