Brussels, Belgium | 13 July 2018 (Tirana Echo) – The European Commission has started setting the path towards opening accession talks for EU membership with Albania and Macedonia by launching an analytical preliminary process, according to Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiation.
Hahn who visited Albania and Macedonia this week said the visit was geared to “set out the path towards opening of accession negotiations in June 2019 with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and with Albania”.
The statement follows the June Council Conclusions where EU member states agreed to start membership talks with Albania and Macedonia within 2019 if both small Balkan nations show substantial progress in their crucial rule of law reforms under way.
Earlier on Commissioner Hahn told Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Brussels that both Brussels and Tirana “should start work immediately even before the summer break to work on all challenges in order to guarantee a sound and full analysis of the situation.”
While accession talks are already underway for both Serbia and Montenegro, the European Commission recommended earlier this year that negotiations start with both Albania and Macedonia, with the latter agreeing to solve a long conflict over a name dispute with its southern neighbor Greece.
EU member states disappointed Albanian and Macedonian leaders when they decided in June during their General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels to postpone opening accession talks until next year.
All Western Balkan countries hope to join an increasingly skeptical and tired European Union with a target agenda of 2025 for final steps of membership.
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