EU: Accession Negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania

Statement by President Michel on the occasion of Intergovernmental Conferences on the accession with North Macedonia and with Albania

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July 19, 2022

Today, we have finally taken important steps forward in the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Intergovernmental Conferences at ministerial level were held in Brussels to implement the decision by the European Council of March 2020 to open accession talks. I congratulate the authorities and the citizens of North Macedonia and Albania for this long-awaited achievement.

I realise that the road to reach this point has been long and challenging. As I have seen first-hand, the debate was particularly intense in North Macedonia, but has ultimately led to a positive vote in the national parliament, the Sobranie. Macedonians, today your country is taking the first key step on the path of negotiations with the European Union. As I said in Skopje a few days ago, North Macedonia can count on my full support on this journey.The country has undertaken important reforms and I know Macedonians are committed to our common EU future.

I am also pleased that Albania’s negotiations’ path is now on its way. Albania has worked hard to ensure results from reforms and a track record of implementation in all areas identified by the Council. Today is a historic day and a time to celebrate what has been achieved, but also a time to look at the challenges ahead with a clear objective: to advance on the EU path without delay.

Today’s holding of IGCs unlocks the next phase for both Albania and North Macedonia. The screening process will now start, not only the updated explanatory screening, but also bilateral screenings. Hard work lies ahead for our negotiators, in Skopje, Tirana and Brussels, in this crucial phase. In the coming months, this will build a solid basis for the opening of the clusters of negotiating chapters.

In parallel, the EU will focus on re-energising the enlargement process. At the EU-Western Balkans leaders’ meeting and the June European Council, we decided to inject a new dynamic and a new determination to move forward together. We will further advance the gradual integration of the EU and the region, already during the enlargement process. The Western Balkans belong in the EU, and we need to make this happen. Our future is together, and the future of our children will be more prosperous and safe as we advance our project of shared values.

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