Commission drafts negotiating frameworks for Albania and North Macedonia
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    Commission drafts negotiating frameworks for Albania and North Macedonia

    Oliver Varhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, credit: EU, 2020

    The European Commission presented last week the draft negotiating frameworks for Albania and North Macedonia to the Council but the frameworks have not been made public yet.

    The negotiating frameworks establish the guidelines and principles for the accession negotiations with each candidate country and are divided into three parts: 1) principles governing the accession negotiations, 2) substance of the negotiations, and 3) negotiations procedure.

    They have been expected since the Council decided in March to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia without setting any dates. For Albania there are still reform conditions to meet. In May, EU leaders reaffirmed their support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans at a virtual summit with their Western Balkan counterparts.

    “Today marks another important step on Albania’s and North Macedonia’s paths to the European Union,” said Oliver Varhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, on 2 July.

    “Delivering on our commitment, we outline concrete frameworks for the conduct of accession negotiations. Our proposals build on the revised enlargement methodology we put forward in February to make the accession process more credible, with a stronger political steer, more dynamic and predictable.”

    Once the member states have adopted the negotiating frameworks, the German presidency will present the agreed general EU position in the first inter-governmental conference with each country, marking the formal start of the accession negotiations. The negotiating frameworks will be made public at this stage. It is not even clear if the two candidate countries have seen them.

    Asked by The Brussels Times to comment on the negotiating frameworks, a Commission spokesperson replied that it cannot disclose any details on their content. “We cannot prejudge the discussions among member states.”  The draft frameworks for Albania and North Macedonia are very similar, but they do take into account the specific situation of each of the countries, according to the spokesperson.

    A decision by the Council seems not far away in July. A spokesperson of the EU Council Presidency said that the two negotiating frameworks will be on the agenda of the meeting of the EU27 ambassadors (Coreper) on Monday (6 July). The Commission will present the frameworks to the ambassadors at the meeting.

    Coreper stands for the “Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union” and is the Council’s main preparatory body.

    M. Apelblat
    The Brussels Times