The European Union will “probably” authorise the start of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in October, Bloomberg reported today.
Claiming they have been privy to a draft communique that was circulated on Friday, they reported that “in light of the progress achieved on reforms”, EU Ministers meeting in Luxembourg on 15 October will decide to “open accession negotiations” with the governments in Skopje and Tirana.
A push to open accession negotiations stalled in June as countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and France were not in favour. Concerns regarding the rule of law and the fight against corruption were suggested as a reason why a decision was postponed until October.
With concerns rising over these issues in EU Member States Poland, Hungary, and Romania, whether the EU had the capabilities to integrate new members was called into question.
Dutch Parliamentarians have said two weeks ago that they will not review the decision they made in June to block the government from approving the opening of accession negotiations in Albania. A large majority had approved a motion requesting the government to vote against opening talks with Albania. The government can in principle ignore the motion but that it not highly likely.
Two weeks ago, Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok confirmed that there have been “no indications that something has changed in the meantime.” Blok stated that negotiations with Albania will be opened once it has fulfilled the five conditions imposed by the European Council in 2018.
Last week, the German Bundestag voted to open accession negotiations with Albania, with technical talks only starting once additional conditions are met. These include the investigation and prosecution of those involved in electoral crimes, the establishment of the Constitutional Court, High Court, and Electoral Reform.
France has remained hesitant at opening negotiations with Albania, with rumours circulating that they may prefer to decouple North Macedonia and Albania and decide on each country separately.
Today in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s first meeting of the Autumn, French Secretary of State, Amelie de Montchallin spoke of a number of concerns in the Western Balkans, especially in EU candidate countries. She referred to issues with corruption, the rule of law, brain drain and the need for all countries to “find the right path forward”.
When pushed on whether France supported the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia, Montchallin stated that France was “working towards a clear and substantive decision” and that they welcomed the progress and steps North Macedonia had taken.
Bloomberg also reported that a previous draft of the communique that they had seen, did not include the recommendation to begin talks.