Today, February 5, the European Commission presented a proposal to continue the process of joining the EU, to make it more credible, with a stronger, more dynamic and predictable political orientation.
“The enlargement of the European Union to the Western Balkans is an absolute priority for the Commission. We are working on three important points: The first concrete step is to improve the accession process. We are working to strengthen and improve this process with the aim of opening negotiations and full membership of the EU. The second step, parallel to the first, is the monitoring by the Commission of the implementation of the recommendations for the opening of the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, providing as soon as possible an update on the progress made by these two countries. Third point; in preparation for the EU-Western Balkans summit to be held in Zagreb in May, the Commission will present a plan for economic development and investment in the region " said the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Olivér Várhelyi.
An EU perspective for the Western Balkans
The European Commission has proposed a series of rules that Albania must comply with in order to strengthen the accession process.
According to the Commission, the accession process must be based on mutual trust and clear commitments from the European Union and the Western Balkans. This credibility could be strengthened through an even more marked attention by the countries concerned to fundamental reforms, starting from the functioning of democratic institutions, the efficiency of public administration and the economy of the candidate countries.
As for the political nature of the accession process, the European Commission proposes to increase the opportunities for a high-level political dialogue, through regular EU-Western Balkan summits and intensified ministerial contacts. Furthermore, Member States should be more systematically involved in monitoring and reviewing the process. All bodies under the Stabilization and Association Agreement will focus more on policy issues and key reforms, while Intergovernmental Conferences will provide clearer political guidance for the negotiations.
The Commission has proposed to group negotiating chapters into six key thematic areas: internal market; competitiveness and inclusive growth; green agenda and sustainable connectivity; resources, agriculture and cohesion; external Relations. Meanwhile, the Commission has stated that it will provide greater clarity on what the EU expects from the countries in question at different stages of the process. This will clarify the positive consequences that can occur when there is progress on reforms, and the negative consequences when there is no progress.
Next steps to follow
The Commission hopes that Member States will support the proposal, in parallel with the start of the accession negotiations with northern Macedonia and Albania, with a view to the EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb on 6-7 May. Pending this summit, the Commission will examine ways of promoting investment, socio-economic integration and the rule of law in the Western Balkan region.
Former Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said he was positive about it, saying: ''We hope that the new methodology will make the accession process to the European Union more effective, predictable and inspiring for the change of society in the Western Balkans. The reunification of the continent is a shared historical responsibility. Therefore, enlargement policy should be seen as a win by both sides. ''