The European Parliament wants member states to immediately start negotiation talks with North Macedonia and Albania.
Despite the fact that these two Western Balkan countries have fulfilled all the requested conditions a long time ago, the European Council has not been able to schedule the first Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).
The Socialists and Democrats have always been strong advocates of the enlargement process in the Western Balkans, considering it a motor for democracy, freedom, the rule of law and economic prosperity. They insist that in the light of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the EU’s recommitment to the Western Balkans is more urgent than ever and expect the decision on scheduling an IGC at the June summit at the latest. The further delay is not only harming the EU’s credibility but also making the Western Balkan region more vulnerable to interference from hostile third countries.
Isabel Santos, S&D MEP and the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Albania, said: “Albania remains a fully reliable and committed strategic partner. It continues to move forward with fundamental EU-related reforms and is fulfilling and maintaining conditions for starting accession talks.”
“The enlargement policy is one of the EU’s most effective foreign policy instruments, contributing to the extension of the reach of the Union’s fundamental values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, peace building and respect for human rights and dignity.”
“The accession process for Albania cannot be held hostage to third parties’ discussions and interests. It is only fair that the Council finally agrees on opening the long-overdue accession negotiations with Albania, not least in the face of mounting geostrategic challenges.”
Tonino Picula, S&D MEP, spokesperson on foreign affairs and lead on North Macedonia added: “North Macedonia did everything it was requested to do and yet we still do not know the date of the Intergovernmental Conference to start the accession negotiations. They underwent substantial reforms, including to strengthen their democracy and fight against corruption, and even changed their name! And in contrast to some others, both North Macedonia and Albania have fully aligned with the EU’s sanctions against Russia.”
“There really must be no more excuses for further delay, if we want to preserve our credibility. It is also necessary to keep the pro-European flame (and aspirations) alive in North Macedonia and the whole Western Balkan region.”
“Given the changed geopolitical context after the Russian aggression on Ukraine, strengthening the EU enlargement process is more important than ever. In June, a positive decision on finally starting the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania is a must!”