Commission and EU members: Differing assessments of Western Balkans’ progress

Maja Kocijančič

BRUSSELS –  European Commission has assessed that a significant work directed at positive changes in the Western Balkans had been done in 2018, stated EU Spokesperson Maja Kocijančič. Concerning the criticism of Commission’s assessment that Albania has fulfilled conditions for opening of accession negotiations by some member states, Kocijančič stressed that the enlargement is a process with many steps and that it benefits Europe as a whole.

“The enlargement is a process which demands fulfilling precise political and economic criteria together with alignment with EU legislation. There are many steps on that path. Nobody can claim that all criteria have been fulfilled, but those required for the next steps have, and that is not the end of the work”, she sated.

She also reminded about the fact that the EU enlargement policy is a “geo-strategical investment in peace, stability, security and economic development of the whole Europe”.

Following the release of this year’s EC Reports on the progress made by candidate countries, there have been assessments from several member states that are in the contrast with Commission’s findings, especially when it comes to the rule of law in Albania.

The parliament of Netherlands, after it called for suspension of visa liberalisation for the citizens of Albania, also voiced its opposition towards opening of accession negotiations with Tirana, the reason again being the problems of organised crime coming to the EU from this country. At the same tame, German Bundestag, as well as the President of France Emmanuel Macron, assessed that Albania’s results in the area of rule of law are “unconvincing”.

European Commission responded that recommendations for opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia are based on objective information on “determination and tangible results” of Tirana and Skopje.

“The fight against the organised crime and corruption is one of the priorities. It is a commitment that the whole region has taken, and the work continues”, concluded Kocijančič.