Albania and North Macedonia opened on July 19 negotiations on accession to the European Union.
European Commission Ursula von der Leyen hailed this as a historic moment.
The step follows key votes by the parliaments in Sofia and Skopje on a “French proposal” to enable North Macedonia – and by extension, Albania, coupled with North Macedonia in the process – to proceed with EU accession talks.
Von der Leyen said that immediately after the day’s intergovernmental conference, the Commission and the negotiation teams would start to work.
“The screening of the EU acquis will start. This is the first step in the process. The screening will enable Albania and North Macedonia to get familiar with the rights and obligations of our Union. From treaties to legislation, to international agreements – you name it. And we will proceed very quickly with that,” Von der Leyen said.
“We will continue to get closer in key areas,” she said.
“For instance, Albania will now join the EU Civil Protection Mechanism– we already started the discussion last month.”
Von der Leyen said that this would enhance Albania’s resilience to natural disasters like floods, forest fires, or earthquakes.
“Member states know – as some fight terrible fires as we speak right now in this very moment – that the European Union is always there to support when disasters strike.”
Von der Leyen said that North Macedonia would very soon negotiate with the EC the Frontex agreement, about the deployment of Frontex to North Macedonia.
“This will strengthen our cooperation on migration,” she said
Addressing herself to North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, Von der Leyen said: “And, Dimitar, you can count on my support to ensure that the agreement is translated into the Macedonian language, no footnote, no asterisk, on an equal footing with all 24 EU languages.”
This was a reference to EU recognition of the Macedonian language, while Bulgaria refuses such recognition.
“My third point is that the benefits will accrue as you will advance with the negotiations. There will be a boost in investment. There will be improved trade links. There will be closer collaboration in key areas, like, for example, energy or transport.
“You will maximise the use and the impact of EU funding. This means new jobs, new business opportunities. This is what your citizens have been waiting for so long and have been working for so hard – and this is what they deserve,” Von der Leyen said.
(Photo of, from left, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, North Macedonian PM Dimitar Kovacevski, Albanian PM Edi Rama and EC President Ursula von der Leyen: EC Audiovisual Service/ Christophe Licoppe)
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