At the end of a videoconference meeting, European ministers approved the opening of talks on Tuesday to integrate the two Balkan countries.

At the end of a videoconference meeting, European ministers approved the opening of talks on Tuesday to integrate the two Balkan countries.

(.) – “Luxembourg welcomes the decision to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania,” said Jean Asselborn, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, adding that “this decision represents both an important signal to the candidate countries of the Western Balkans and a demonstration of our Union’s continued ability to take strategic decisions in a difficult context ”.

The Ministers of European Affairs endorsed the agreement found the day before by their ambassadors in Brussels. But it is only a “political agreement”, underlined the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi. It must be confirmed by a written procedure Wednesday and endorsed by EU leaders at their virtual summit on Thursday, said a European official.

If the agreement gives hope to the two candidates, the road will still be difficult for Albania because Germany and the Netherlands have demanded from Tirana reforms to be accomplished before the formal opening of negotiations. Albania must adopt electoral reform, ensure transparent funding of political parties and electoral campaigns.

Structures to fight organized crime

It must also pursue the implementation of judicial reform, in particular by ensuring the functioning of the Constitutional Court and the High Court, and finalize the establishment of structures specialized in the fight against corruption and organized crime, specifies the draft agreement.

These reforms must have been carried out before the intergovernmental conference which will officially launch the opening of negotiations. Its date has not been set. The member states must first accept the framework for negotiations prepared by the Commission. Two other countries in the Western Balkans have started the process of joining: Montenegro in 2012 and Serbia in 2014.

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