European Commission recommends opening accession talks with Albania, North Macedonia

In its latest assessment report looking at the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkans, the European Commission has recommended that the European Union should begin accession talks with both Albania and North Macedonia.

“The commission’s Western Balkans Strategy of February 2018 generated a renewed engagement by the EU and its member states and created new momentum across the region. One year on, the partner countries have made concrete progress and demonstrated commitment to the European perspective, even if the overall uptake of reforms varies,” reads the report.

“Albania and North Macedonia have embraced the opportunity and delivered on reforms, in particular in the areas identified as crucial by the [European] Council in June 2018. In light of the significant progress achieved and the relevant conditions being met, the commission recommended today that the council now opens accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.”

The final decision on whether or not accession talks begin, however, will be taken by the European Council, made up of the heads of state or government of EU member nations. It is believed that Italy is opposed to further enlargement at the present time, and both France and the Netherlands have expressed concerns.

The European Union high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini warned the bloc’s member states that “failure to recognise and respond to objective progress would damage the European Union’s credibility.”

There was less cheerful news in the commission’s report for Bosnia.

“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,” it reads.