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European Western Balkans
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EU again without decision on starting accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia

General Affairs Council meeting, 22 June 2021; Photo: European Union

LUXEMBOURG – The General Affairs Council of the EU has failed to reach an agreement on starting EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.

“It was not possible to reach an agreement to reach an agreement on approving the negotiations frameworks with North Macedonia and Albania”, Paula Zacarias of the Portuguese EU Presidency said in a press statement.

According to a press release, the minister discussed negotiation frameworks for the two countries in Luxembourg –  a document that lays out the guidelines and principles for their accession talks, including a date for the first intergovernmental conference.

While all 27 EU ministers in the case of Albania, and 26 in the case of North Macedonia, agreed that the two countries have met the criteria for talks to start, the Bulgarian veto blocked both countries’ progress in the EU path this time. It left Albania also with no date for talks, given that the EU path of the latter is tied to that of its neighbor, North Macedonia.

EU leaders approved the opening of EU accession talks with the two countries in March 2020. However, they also made the start of negotiations conditional upon the fulfillment of a number of requirements for Albania, and none for North Macedonia.

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