Following the political decision taken by the European affairs ministers to open the negotiation talks with Albania and North Macedonia, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats Iratxe García Pérez said:
“This is a great day for the people of Albania, North Macedonia and the European Union, as it confirms that enlargement policy, one of the most successful EU policies, is still alive! Unfortunately the impact of today’s decision is overshadowed by coronavirus, but it brings good news to these two countries also affected by the outbreak.
“We congratulate the member states for managing to find an agreement and opening the accession talks. Both countries fully deserved this decision. As it was repeatedly stated by the European Commission, they fulfilled all criteria and did what they were asked to do in order to move closer to the EU.”
S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, Kati Piri, said:
“I welcome this long awaited and deserved decision. However, the Socialists and Democrats, regret that the Council conclusions do not mention a target date for the start of the negotiations. We hope it will be as soon as possible.
“The Socialists and Democrats have always been great advocates for a European future for the Western Balkans. And we will remain so, but the pace of the enlargement process must be merit-based, and will depend on the countries themselves. The S&Ds will be paying special attention to the rule of law and the respect of fundamental rights, and the freedom of media.”
Tonino Picula, S&D coordinator in the committee on foreign affairs, and the EP rapporteur on enlargement in the Western Balkans, added:
“Today’s decision is good news and I congratulate both countries, although I am of the opinion that adopted additional conditions were not necessary in case of Albania.
“We reiterate our group’s call to the Commission and the member states to support all Western Balkan countries in their efforts to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus. It is important to include Albania and North Macedonia, alongside Montenegro and Serbia, in the ‘financial assistance to member states and countries negotiating their accession to the Union seriously affected by a major public health emergency’ to be adopted by the European Parliament on Thursday. Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina should be supported by other means, too.”
Note to editors:
Following the political agreement, the formal decision will be taken by written procedure by the 27 permanent representatives of the member states to the EU.