Brussels | 18 June 2019 (Tirana Echo) – EU member states have again delayed a decision to formally open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, despite a positive recommendation by the European Commission earlier in May.
The announcement was made by the European Council following its June 18 meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
The press release from the meeting said that “in light of the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019.”
Earlier in May, the European Commission recommended to member states that accession talks with the two small Balkan states begin as soon as possible, saying the two countries have “delivered on reforms.”
However, EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, said after the Luxembourg meeting that “a minority of member states were not able to support the commission’s clear proposal to open accession negotiations with Albania and with North Macedonia already today,” calling the delay “unfortunate.”
Mr. Hahn added that the EU must reward “those who have delivered on all the requirements the council itself had unanimously set to in Luxembourg exactly one year ago.”
Reportedly, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany have raised objections to opening membership talks in June, fearing internal backlash by increasingly tired local populations with the European project and its enlargement.
However, Balkan leaders warn the EU may be making a grave mistake in not turning the green light on, adding that their countries have delivered on requirements from member states and that it is time to start negotiating.
North Macedonia’s PM Zoran Zaev warned that a delay in EU talks could lead to the toppling his government and allow nationalist, anti-EU forces to take power, while Albanian PM Edi Rama said that trust in the European bloc would be damaged if it did not keep its promises.
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