The European Commission has adopted its annual assessment of the implementation of institutional reforms across the Western Balkan states.
The report, covering Western Balkan reform progress in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, found positive results in all states; although the actual degrees to which progress had been made varied. Each of the Western Balkan nations was found to have engaged productively with the EU and displayed substantive commitment to EU ideals, in line with the Commission’s 2018 Western Balkans Strategy.
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said: “Albania and North Macedonia have embraced the opportunity of the reinvigorated enlargement agenda and delivered on reforms. North Macedonia not only continued its ambitious reform agenda, but also reached a historic agreement with Greece, resolving a 27-year old name dispute, an example for the entire region and beyond. Albania is pursuing profound reforms, in particular a major transformation of its justice system. All these efforts are testimony to the power of attraction of the European Union.”
The Commission particularly commended the progress made by Albania and North Macedonia in implementing strategies and policies in line with the EU’s overarching principles. Now that the two states can be considered to have met EU accession criteria, the Commission has recommended the European Council begin preliminary accession negotiations with both Albania and North Macedonia.
Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said: “The Western Balkans are Europe and will be part of the EU’s future, of a stronger, stable and united European Union. The past year has been a year of positive change, across the region. Albania and North Macedonia have shown a strong determination to advance on the EU path and achieved results that are concrete and must be irreversible. Based on that, today we recommend that the Council opens the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. The European Union’s enlargement policy is an investment in peace, in security, in prosperity and in the stability of Europe.”