EU enlargement: Red Light for Albania and North Macedonia

EU enlargement: Red Light for Albania and North Macedonia
 Zoran Zaev (right) and Jean-Claude Juncker
  Several Member States refuse the accession negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia. This is what their EU ambassadors will say today, Wednesday, at their weekly meeting in Brussels during a meeting with EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn. 

Because this decision requires the unanimity of the 28, it is therefore excluded before the Summer that the two Western Balkan countries will take the next step towards the EU membership. Even a visit to Brussels by the North-Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Tuesday did not changed this sentiment.

France and the Netherlands in particular are strongly opposed to the opening of accession negotiations with the two countries. "When I was a minister, I blocked the EU's enlargement of Albania and northern Macedonia. We are against it, we will remain against this. They are geographically located in Europe, you have to help them, but no to be part," said Nathalie Loiseau, the list leader of the party of President Emmanuel Macron, La République en Marche, on 22 May in an interview with the French radio station RTL. Loiseau, who will now lead Macron's MEPs in the European Parliament, was previously Europe's Minister, as the Austrian Die Presse reports.

Netherlands to ban the visa-free regime

The Netherlands goes one step further than France. They call for an end to the visa-free regime for Albanian citizens. On Monday, a spokeswoman for the European Commission confirmed that she had received a letter from The Hague. Albanians have been able to travel to the EU visa-free since the end of 2010; the citizens of North Macedonia one year after. The Commission now has one month to consider the Dutch complaint. The visa-free regime can be removed in accordance with the rules in force, for example, if there are particularly many cases of asylum applications from the country concerned, or if the number of unauthorized overdrafts of the three-month residence period increases significantly.

Also in Denmark and Germany there is no agreement to open the accession negotiations with the two states. In Denmark, the parliament will be re-elected this Wednesday, a victory for the Social Democrats is emerging. Under their party leader Mette Frederiksen, they have moved strongly to the right in foreigner policy. In Germany, aside from the skepticism about the reforming aspirations of the two governments, there are procedural reasons why it will not be possible to agree before the Summer. The government is only allowed to approve accession negotiations with a third state after a prior authorization by the Bundestag. The meets before the Summer break but only this week and in the last week of June. Consequently, MEPs did not have time to study and debate the progress report of the European Commission, which was published in Brussels last week. In this report, the Commission recommends the opening of the accession negotiations. At the end of September, the Bundestag will be able to decide on it, said on Thursday the parliamentary group leader of the CDU / CSU, Johann Wadephul.

The Questionable Arguments of the Brussels

Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said last week that the EU is now facing North Macedonia for resolving its dispute with Greece over its name. However, this argument is doubtful. "It was never a condition for enlargement, but only for NATO accession," an European diplomat told the press. He also doubted the zeal for reform of the two states: "Look at the protests in Albania and how the government reacts: is there any effort at all? Let us not forget that the Commission warned about the organized crime only two or three years before."
EU enlargement: Red Light for Albania and North Macedonia EU enlargement: Red Light for Albania and North Macedonia Tuesday, June 04, 2019 Rating: 5
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