EP adopts a resolution supporting negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia

European Parliament Session; Photo: European Union

STRASBOURG – In a resolution adopted on Thursday, the European Parliament stressed that North Macedonia and Albania meet the requirements to start negotiations.

Parliament expressed deep disappointment over the failure to agree on opening EU accession talks with both countries at the EU summit on 17-18 October.

The text was adopted by 412 votes in favour, 136 against and 30 abstentions.

MEPs regret the move by France, Denmark and the Netherlands to block the decision and say that Albania and North Macedonia have made considerable efforts over the last few years and meet the EU’s criteria to start membership talks.

Praising North Macedonia’s efforts to settle difficult bilateral issues with its neighbouring countries, MEPs also welcomed recent judiciary reforms in Albania.

Parliament stressed that the “non-decision” by EU leaders is a strategic mistake, which damages the EU’s credibility and sends a negative message to other possible candidate countries. It could also allow other foreign actors – whose activity might not be in line with EU values and interests – to engage more closely with both Albania and North Macedonia, MEPs added.

Read also: Hahn: The least we owe to Western Balkans is honesty

A reform of the enlargement process, advocated by some countries, should not hinder Albania and North Macedonia, which already meet the requirements to be assessed on their own merits and objective criteria, and not judged by domestic political agendas in other countries, says the text.

MEPs urged EU countries to act responsibly towards Albania and North Macedonia and to take a unanimous positive decision at the next meeting. Parliament should step up its democracy support activities to ensure that the national parliaments in the Western Balkans play their role as engines for democratic reform, they added.

President of the European Parliament David Sassoli repeated his opinion that not giving North Macedonia and Albania the accession date was a mistake but that the vast majority of the EU was in favour of the decision. Speaker of the Parliament of North Macedonia Talat Xhaferi represented his country in the meeting.

Biggest EP groups regret the decision of the European Council

Previously, the biggest groups in the European Parliament expressed disappointment over the failure of the European Council to support the two countries.

European People’s Party stated that the fact that some member states blocked the accession talks with Skopje and Tirana was regretful.

“We must acknowledge their efforts and opening the talks would be an incentive to continue with the necessary reforms to further implement the rule of law, strengthen the judiciary, fight against corruption, improve neighbourly relations and guarantee the independence of the media. Our credibility in the region is at stake” said EPP President Joseph Daul.

Following the European Council meeting last week, leader of the S&D group Iratxe Garcia said that the EU loses its leverage and credibility when it fails to open negotiations with two countries that have done all the reforms they were requested to do.

“North Macedonians and Albanians expect more from us. It is regrettable that the opening of negotiations was blocked in the Council. Our political group will keep the pressure to reverse that decision”, Garcia pledged.