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Albania, N. Macedonia ready for accession talks, says EU

Albania, N. Macedonia ready for accession talks, says EU

Federica Mogherini - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Council should open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, the Commission recommended Wednesday in its annual assessment of reforms in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

A firm and credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans remains 'essential to drive transformation, foster reconciliation, export stability to the region and promote EU values, norms and standards', said the EU executive.

The EU renewed engagement with the Western Balkans in February 2018, and finds, one year on, that the partner countries have made "concrete progress and demonstrated commitment to the European perspective", though it admits the overall uptake of reforms varies.

Albania and North Macedonia have "embraced the opportunity and delivered on reforms", says the Commission, which recommends that the Council now opens accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.

"The Western Balkans are Europe and will be part of the EU's future, of a stronger, stable and united European Union," said the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

She commended the changes made in Albania and North Macedonia, and said the countries have shown "a strong determination to advance on the EU path and achieved results that are concrete and must be irreversible."

"The European Union's enlargement policy," she added, "is an investment in peace, in security, in prosperity and in the stability of Europe."

The Commission also issued its Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for membership of the European Union, together with an analytical report that reviews, for the first time, the situation in the country against all standards applicable to EU Member States.

For Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Commission considers that negotiations for accession should be opened once it has "achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria and in particular the political criteria requiring stability of institutions, guaranteeing notably democracy and rule of law". Bosnia and Herzegovina will need to fundamentally improve its legislative and institutional framework to ensure it meets a number of detailed priorities in the field of democracy, rule of law, fundamental rights and public administration reform.

For Turkey, seen as a key partner for the EU and a candidate country, dialogue and cooperation, including at highest level, in essential areas of joint interest have continued, including through effective cooperation on migration and support to refugees.

However, the EU executive says Turkey has "continued to move further away from the European Union, with serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights and through the weakening of effective checks and balances in the political system, brought forward by the entry into force of the constitutional amendment". In June 2018 the Council noted unanimously that Turkey's accession negotiations have effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing. The underlying facts leading to this assessment still hold.

2019 Commission Communication on EU Enlargement Policy

Detailed findings and recommendations on each country:

Montenegro: MEMO; Report

Serbia: MEMO; Report

Turkey: MEMO; Report

North Macedonia: MEMO; Report

Albania: MEMO; Report

Bosnia and Herzegovina: MEMO; Opinion

Kosovo: MEMO; Report

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