EU member states postponed a decision to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, most probably until September. Germany has to resolve internal parliament processes before taking a position which is the cause of the deferment. While most of the member states are prepared to accept North Macedonia into the union, Albania remains a ‘no-go’ for a few. Both countries fulfilled all the requirements which led to the Commission’s recommendation to open negotiations. However, it does not mean the membership is guaranteed.
Meanwhile, an agreement is being decided on giving ‘go-ahead’ to North Macedonia, which is praised for unblocking the dispute over North Macedonia’s name. In the case of Albania, member states are unable to reach unanimity, with the main criticism revolving around the country’s corruption and organised crime. While the majority of member states are in favour of a positive outcome (around 15 governments), the rest is against and Italy insists on coupling the membership prospects for both of the candidates together.
“Albania is now in disarray. The opposition has walked out of institutions and it’s getting tenser. So what can we say here? We have had positive recommendations from the Commission before, and we’ve been decoupled before,” commented Stevo Pendarovski, North Macedonia’s president. The majority of the countries that support the enlargement argue that the failure to open the membership talks with these countries would decrease the EU’s credibility in the Western Balkans and beyond. Moreover, it could pose a threat to the fragile stability in the region, where China and Russia’s influence is growing through large investments and propaganda.