European Western Balkans

New enlargement methodology officially endorsed by the Member States

Oliver Varhelyi presents the enlargement methodology proposal; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – Council of the European Union officially endorsed Commission’s proposal for a new enlargement methodology, which will be applied to the accession process of North Macedonia and Albania, in its conclusions of 25 March 2020.

The proposed changes can also be accommodated within the existing negotiating frameworks with Montenegro and Serbia with the agreement of the respective countries, the Council concluded.

The conclusions were also endorsed by the European Council yesterday.

Take a look at our Infographic breaking down the changes to the current enlargement methodology proposed by the Commission.

The Council stated it looks forward to the Commission’s proposals, laid out in the Communication “Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans”, integrated in future negotiating frameworks and building on applicable established practice under the renewed consensus on enlargement.

The negotiating frameworks with both North Macedonia and Albania will be drafted by the Commission in the coming months and will have to be adopted by the Council in order for both countries to formally open their enlargement negotiations.

“The Council endorses the Commission Communication on “Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans” of 5 February 2020, aiming to reinvigorate the accession process by making it more predictable, more credible, more dynamic and subject to stronger political steering, based on objective criteria and rigorous positive and negative conditionality, and reversibility. The fundamental democratic, rule of law and economic reforms represent the core objective of the accession process”, the conclusions read.

Read also: New enlargement methodology: It will work only if used properly

The Council confirmed that the enlargement process built on mutual trust, confidence and clear criteria and commitments will be continued on the basis of the Commission Communication on “Enhancing the accession process – A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans” as applicable, while fully respecting the integrity of the work of the Council and its autonomy as regards the presence of third parties at its meetings.

In this context, the Council stressed the importance of ensuring that the EU can maintain and deepen its own development, including its capacity to integrate new members.

The new methodology includes clustering 33 negotiating chapters into six clusters which will be opened as a whole, more focus on the rule of law and fundamental values of the EU through instruments such as roadmaps, more involvement of the individual EU Member States in the process, as well as graudal integration of the candidates in various EU policies if the reforms are duly implemented, or sanctioning the lack of progress with the reversal of the process.

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