We thought of putting together some important points on the opening of negotiations between the European Union and Albania.
The Council of the European Union (political body which includes high representatives of all member countries) has approved a general agreement to open negotiations with Macedonia and Albania. For Albania, an eleven-year journey that began in 2009 ends.
Compared to October 2019, when the European Council refused to open negotiations, the reform of the enlargement process presented by the Commissioner in February also affected Olivér Várhelyi, which has given more political weight to the Member States. Probably the decision was also influenced by the signing of the so-called Mini-Schengen: an agreement between Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, based on the free movement of goods, capital, services and people.
It appears, however, that the countries which at the time opposed the opening of the negotiations (France and the Netherlands), had informal reassurances that the opening of the negotiations would be conditional. A similar request was also made by Greece regarding the problem of minorities in Albania.
Now what happens?
The decision was corrected on March 26 by the European Council, the body that includes the heads of state of the member countries. It is just two lines in the official document dominated by the Coronavirus emergency (We approve the Council conclusions of 25 March 2020 on enlargement and the stabilization and association process). Yet after this decision, an official date was expected for the start of negotiations, but this is currently missing. It is not clear, therefore, when the real negotiations will begin.
When will Albania and Macedonia be part of the European Community?
There is no sure answer to this question, because to date it is still not possible to speak of a date. In any case, what is clear is that it will take several years. Taking an example with the country closest to Macedonia and Albania, the example of Croatia applies.
Negotiations with the EU started in 2005 and the country formally joined the European Community in 2013, after eight years. Earlier there was the case of Romania and Bulgaria, which joined in 2004 and 2005 respectively, to become part of the European Community in 2007, but at the end of a process that lasted much longer. However, the last decade has shown that accessions are increasingly slow and times similar to Bulgaria and Romania are no longer possible.
Then there are the other negotiations. Turkey started him already since October 2005, 15 years ago, but at the moment they have stopped. On the other hand, for Montenegro, negotiations started in June 2012, both for Serbia and from January 2014 are proceeding slowly.
In short, if there are no upheavals, perhaps Albania and Macedonia will be part of the European Union in a minimum of five to six years.
What will happen once the negotiations begin?
The real negotiations begin. These are discussions and reforms on 35 specific chapters affecting the European Union, on matters such as justice, taxation, fishing, free movement and much more (official link). In practice: the EU will ask Albania to initiate reforms or improvements on these 35 fields, and there will be periodic evaluations of the progress made by the Balkan countries.
As we proceed, some chapters will be "closed". Once all 35 chapters are closed, there will be the date of formal accession and entry into the European Community.
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