EU accord for Albania and Macedonia talks in 2019

Italy helped to get past French-Dutch opposition

27 June, 11:27

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, JUNE 27 - EU members have agreed to begin accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia in June 2019. The agreement was announced by the member state currently holding the EU's rotating presidency, Bulgaria, in order to provide a ''clear European prospective'' to the two countries. France and the Netherlands had been against greenlighting negotiations that other members instead wanted to begin immediately. The compromise was reached in part thanks to Italy, which has long supported EU integration of the two Balkan nations. In the final document, the European Commission was given a mandate to continue preparatory work for the starting of talks with Albania and Macedonia. The result came after two days of talks at the General Affairs Council, with EU members agreeing only at the end, leading to a year's postponement of the opening of negotiations.

    Diplomatic sources have called the result ''positive overall'' and ''an encouragement for the two countries'', but which ''could have been much more ambitious politically''. Opposition from France and the Netherlands, with Denmark's support, prevented the starting of talks immediately. It was 26 to 22, with Italy working to reach a solution supported by all involved. France and the Netherlands were particularly against accession talks with Albania.

    On Thursday, the Dutch parliament approved a resolution by a wide margin that called on the government to vote against the opening of talks with Tirana, due to results considered insufficient in fighting corruption and crime.

    The hardline stance was shared by France, which for months has reiterated its opposition to EU enlargement in the Western Balkans. For Macedonia the opposition was less due to a recent agreement between it and Greece to end a decades-long dispute over the name of the country. (ANSamed).

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