2019 Communication on EU Enlargement Policy

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2019) 260
Publication Date 29/05/2019
Content Type

Summary:

Communication presented on 29 May 2019 by the European Commission which takes stock of progress in the implementation of the EU's enlargement policy up to the end of February 2019. It provides an overview to the 2019 Enlargement Package.

Further information:

This annual assessment presents the progress made in the implementation of reforms in the Western Balkans countries and Turkey - aspiring Member States of the European Union - together with recommendations on the next steps for those countries.

The European Commission notes that partner countries in the Western Balkans made concrete progress and demonstrated commitment to the European perspective, even if the overall uptake of reforms varies. In light of the significant progress achieved and the relevant conditions being met, the Commission recommends that the Council of the European Union opens accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. The Commission also issued its Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for membership of the European Union.

This assessment also highlights that Turkey continued to move further away from the European Union, with what was seen as serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights and through the weakening of effective checks and balances in the political system, brought forward by the entry into force of the constitutional amendment. The previous assessment on progress of Turkey's accession negotiations and underlying reasons still stand.

Individual country reports:

On 18 June, the Council of the European Union adopted a set of conclusions relating to this Communication and the recommendations published in the country reports. While good note was taken of the Commission's recommendation to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, it was also argued that limited time availability and the relevance of the matter did not allow for an immediate follow-up decision. On 3 October, leaders from different EU institutions urged negotiations with the two countries to be launched. On 15 October, the Council of the European Union failed to agree on starting accession talks with the two countries. Media sources highlighted the relevance of France's opposition to accession negotiations. The matter was discussed by the European Council later in the month and again Member States failed to reach an agreement, but also agreed to revisit the issue during the first half of 2020.

On 24 October, the plenary session of the European Parliament adopted a Resolution condemning the rejection by some member states to allow the opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, highlighting that both countries meet the requirements to start negotiations.

The European Commission published n update to the progress reports concerning Albania and North Macedonia on 2 March 2020. In these documents, the Commission highlights that both countries delivered further tangible progress and re-confirms its recommendation to open accession negotiations. The update covers progress from June 2018 - when the Council first reflected on those proposed negotiations - to date, and builds upon the key findings of the 2019 enlargement package.

The documents were published ahead of a formal decision by the European Council, which was set to discuss the matter later in the year. The Council of the European Union agreed on 24 March with the launch of accession negotiations.

Source Link https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2019:260:FIN
Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
EurActiv, 24/05/2019: Macron and the EU enlargement make-believe https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/opinion/macron-and-the-eu-enlargement-make-believe/
Balkan Insight, 24/05/2019: How to Understand France’s ‘Bad Cop’ Role in the Balkans https://balkaninsight.com/2019/05/24/how-to-understand-frances-bad-cop-role-in-the-balkans/
The Economist, 13/06/2019: The EU must keep its promise to North Macedonia https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/06/13/the-eu-must-keep-its-promise-to-north-macedonia
LSE: EUROPP Blog, 17/06/2019: What the Commission’s 2019 country reports say about national parliaments in the Western Balkans https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2019/06/17/what-the-commissions-2019-country-reports-say-about-national-parliaments-in-the-western-balkans/
EurActiv, 17/06/2019: Will Brussels turn its back – again – on the Balkans? https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/opinion/will-brussels-turn-its-back-again-on-the-balkans/
EurActiv, 24/06/2019: Let’s set things straight: Accession talks do not equate EU membership promise https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/opinion/lets-set-things-straight-accession-talks-do-not-equate-eu-membership-promise/
Balkan Insight, 25/06/2019: EU Policy of ‘Containing’ Balkans is Dangerous Illusion https://balkaninsight.com/2019/06/25/eu-policy-of-containing-balkans-is-dangerous-illusion/
IISS: Analysis, 11/10/2019: EU’s credibility at stake with Albania and North Macedonia accession talks decision https://www.iiss.org/blogs/analysis/2019/10/csdp-eu-accession-talks
EurActiv, 14/10/2019: Failing to deliver on Albania and North Macedonia will haunt the EU https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/opinion/failing-to-deliver-on-albania-and-north-macedonia-will-haunt-the-eu/
Politico, 14/10/2019: Let’s move forward in the western Balkans https://www.politico.eu/article/european-commission-western-balkans-north-macedonia-albania-accession-talks-eu/
EurActiv, 15/10/2015: Leaders must take action, giving signals is not enough https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/opinion/leaders-must-take-action-giving-signals-is-not-enough/
LSE: EUROPP Blog, 15/10/2019: Why the EU should open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2019/10/15/why-the-eu-should-open-accession-negotiations-with-albania-and-north-macedonia/
OBC Transeuropa, 16/10/2019: Albania and North Macedonia: will accession talks finally open? https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Europe/Albania-and-North-Macedonia-will-accession-talks-finally-open-197111
OSW: Analyses, 16/10/2019: Accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia: a dispute inside the EU https://www.osw.waw.pl/en/publikacje/analyses/2019-10-16/accession-negotiations-albania-and-north-macedonia-a-dispute-inside
Politico, 18/10/2019: EU’s Balkan breakdown reveals split among leaders https://www.politico.eu/article/eus-balkan-breakdown-reveals-split-among-leaders/
EUObserver, 21/10/2019: Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance https://euobserver.com/opinion/146350
CEPS: In Brief, 22/10/2019: Macron’s 'Non' to EU enlargement https://www.ceps.eu/macrons-non-to-eu-enlargement/
ECFR: Commentary, 24/10/2019: Flatter and faster: New Western Balkans pathways to the EU https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_flatter_and_faster_new_western_balkans_pathways_to_the_eu
ECFR: Commentary, 25/10/2019: After the French veto: The new scramble for the Western Balkans https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_after_the_french_veto_the_new_scramble_for_the_western_balkans
Forbes, 29/10/2019: EU Must Be Clearer With Balkans If It Wants To Expand https://www.forbes.com/sites/pascaledavies/2019/10/29/eu-must-be-clearer-with-balkans-if-it-wants-to-expand/#74418db253be
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 29/10/2019: Europe’s Enlargement Problem https://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/80203
Balkan Insight, 29/10/2019: France’s EU Enlargement Veto to Further Slow Montenegro Reform https://balkaninsight.com/2019/10/29/frances-eu-enlargement-veto-to-further-slow-montenegro-reform/
Balkan Insight, 04/11/2019: Blocking Enlargement Is an Act of European Self-Harm https://balkaninsight.com/2019/11/04/blocking-enlargement-is-an-act-of-european-self-harm/

News
EurActiv, 28/05/2019: Albania’s riotous politics rattle EU dreams https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/albanias-riotous-politics-rattle-eu-dreams/
Deutsche Welle, 29/05/2019: Turkish democracy 'backsliding,' EU says in membership report https://p.dw.com/p/3JSHQ
Cyprus Mail, 29/05/2019: EU report on Turkey ‘most critical’ since 2005 https://cyprus-mail.com/2019/05/29/eu-takes-turkey-to-task-over-cyprus-in-progress-report/
Hürriyet Daily News, 29/05/2019: Turkey rejects ‘EU’s unjust criticism’ http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-rejects-eus-unjust-criticism-143814
Reuters, 29/05/2019: 'Backsliding' Turkey's EU bid slips further away: Commission https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN1SZ1P2
EurActiv, 29/05/2019: Commission: Turkey has continued to move away from the EU https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/commission-turkey-has-continued-to-move-away-from-the-eu/
Politico, 29/05/2019: EU should start membership talks with Albania, North Macedonia: Commission https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-european-union-should-start-membership-talks-with-albania-north-macedonia-commission/
EurActiv, 29/05/2019: Commission recommends opening accession talks with Albania, North Macedonia https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/commission-recommends-opening-accession-talks-with-albania-north-macedonia/
Deutsche Welle, 29/05/2019: EU urged to open more doors to Albania, North Macedonia https://p.dw.com/p/3JT47
Euronews, 29/05/2019: EU membership talks should start with North Macedonia and Albania, says Mogherini https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/29/eu-membership-talks-should-start-with-north-macedonia-and-albania-says-mogherini
Balkan Insight, 29/05/2019: EC Recommends Accession Talks With Albania, North Macedonia https://balkaninsight.com/2019/05/29/ec-recommends-accession-talks-with-albania-north-macedonia/
RFE/RL, 29/05/2019: EU Commission Calls For Start Of North Macedonia, Albania Accession Talks https://www.rferl.org/a/eu-commission-calls-for-start-of-north-macedonia-albania-accession-talks/29970623.html
Politico, 30/05/2019: Brussels tries new Balkan push https://www.politico.eu/article/brussels-balkan-eu-enlargement-new-push/
BBC News, 30/05/2019: EU sees progress in Albania and N Macedonia membership bids https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48457542
France24, 12/06/2019: EU tells Tirana, Skopje membership will have to wait https://www.france24.com/en/20190612-eu-tells-tirana-skopje-membership-will-have-wait
EUObserver, 12/06/2019: EU split on Western Balkans accession https://euobserver.com/enlargement/145128
Anadolu Agency, 12/06/2019: EU faces disagreements on enlargement policy https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/eu-faces-disagreements-on-enlargement-policy/1502354
Balkan Insight, 13/06/2019: Merkel Reassures North Macedonia on EU Talks https://balkaninsight.com/2019/06/13/merkel-reassures-north-macedonia-on-eu-talks/
Politico, 14/06/2019: The EU’s big Balkan botch-up https://www.politico.eu/article/north-macedonia-albania-european-union-enlargement-member-state-tusk-juncker/
EurActiv, 14/06/2019: North Macedonia president: We need date for EU talks before autumn https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/interview/north-macedonia-president-we-need-date-for-eu-talks-before-autumn/
EUObserver, 14/06/2019: EU paths fork for Albania and North Macedonia https://euobserver.com/enlargement/145155
Kathimerini, 14/06/2019: North Macedonia president warns against delaying EU accession talks http://www.ekathimerini.com/241585/article/ekathimerini/news/north-macedonia-president-warns-against-delaying-eu-accession-talks
Reuters, 14/06/2019: Macedonia on track for EU accession talks but not Albania: diplomats https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN1TF21J
EurActiv, 17/06/2019: North Macedonia nears accession talks, Albania falling behind https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/north-macedonia-nears-accession-talks-albania-falling-behind/
Kathimerini, 17/06/2019: Mogherini urges EU to open accession talks with North Macedonia, Albania http://www.ekathimerini.com/241637/article/ekathimerini/news/mogherini-urges-eu-to-open-accession-talks-with-north-macedonia-albania
Politico, 18/06/2019: EU keeps Albania, North Macedonia waiting on membership talks https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-albania-north-macedonia-membership-talks/
Reuters, 18/06/2019: EU delays decision on membership talks with Albania, North Macedonia https://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKKCN1TJ133
Deutsche Welle, 18/06/2019: EU delays accession talks with N. Macedonia and Albania https://p.dw.com/p/3KepT
France24, 18/06/2019: Courts, cannabis, corruption: Albania struggles against old demons https://www.france24.com/en/20190618-courts-cannabis-corruption-albania-struggles-against-old-demons
Balkan Insight, 18/06/2019: Balkan Hopefuls Await European Council Decision on Talks https://balkaninsight.com/2019/06/18/balkan-hopefuls-await-european-council-decision-on-talks/
EurActiv, 19/06/2019: Divided Europe deals major blow to North Macedonia’s EU accession hopes https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/divided-europe-deals-major-blow-to-north-macedonias-eu-accession-hopes/
EUObserver, 19/06/2019: EU keeps North Macedonia and Albania at arm's length https://euobserver.com/foreign/145195
Hungary Today, 19/06/2019: Foreign Minister: ‘Shameful Tactical Games’ to Postpone Albania, North Macedonia Accession Talks https://hungarytoday.hu/hungary-eu-interests-balkans-albania-macedonia-accession/
Total Croatia News, 19/06/2019: Croatia Regrets Lack of Support for Opening EU Talks with North Macedonia, Albania https://www.total-croatia-news.com/politics/36622-north-macedonia
The Sofia Globe, 19/06/2019: Bulgaria ‘regrets’ EU ministers’ delay on decision on accession talks with North Macedonia, Albania https://sofiaglobe.com/2019/06/19/bulgaria-regrets-eu-ministers-delay-on-decision-on-accession-talks-with-north-macedonia-albania/
LSM.lv, 19/06/2019: Latvia backs EU path for Albania, North Macedonia https://eng.lsm.lv/article/politics/diplomacy/latvia-backs-eu-path-for-albania-north-macedonia.a322932/
Euronews, 21/06/2019: EU accused of betraying promises on Albanian accession https://www.euronews.com/2019/06/20/eu-accused-of-betraying-promises-on-albanian-accession
Hungary Today, 25/06/2019: Szijjártó: North Macedonia’s EU Integration European Interest https://hungarytoday.hu/szijjarto-north-macedonias-eu-integration-european-interest/
EurActiv, 13/09/2019: Visegrad countries back opening of accession talks with North Macedonia, Albania https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/visegrad-countries-back-opening-of-accession-talks-with-north-macedonia-albania/
EUObserver, 13/09/2019: Central European leaders demand Balkan EU accession https://euobserver.com/foreign/145933
Reuters, 17/09/2019: EU's Tusk urges bloc to back talks with Balkan neighbours https://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKKBN1W2208
Politico, 17/09/2019: Tusk calls for opening EU membership talks with North Macedonia https://www.politico.eu/article/donald-tusk-calls-for-opening-eu-membership-talks-with-north-macedonia/
The Sofia Globe, 25/09/2019: Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Croatia call for opening of EU accession talks with Albania, N Macedonia https://sofiaglobe.com/2019/09/25/bulgaria-greece-romania-croatia-call-for-opening-of-eu-accession-talks-with-albania-n-macedonia/
Balkan Insight, 27/09/2019: German Parliament Backs Albania, North Macedonia EU Talks https://balkaninsight.com/2019/09/27/german-parliament-backs-albania-north-macedonia-eu-talks/
Bloomberg, 29/09/2019: EU Set to Resume Expansion Push With Balkan Accession Talks https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-29/eu-set-to-resume-expansion-push-with-balkan-accession-talks
Politico, 03/10/2019: EU chiefs call for start of membership talks with North Macedonia, Albania https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-chiefs-call-for-start-of-membership-talks-with-north-macedonia-albania/
Balkan Insight, 03/10/2019: Albania, North Macedonia EU Hopes Depend on Big Players https://balkaninsight.com/2019/10/03/albania-north-macedonia-eu-hopes-depend-on-big-players/
France24, 03/10/2019: EU chiefs urge membership talks with N.Macedonia, Albania https://www.france24.com/en/20191003-eu-chiefs-urge-membership-talks-with-n-macedonia-albania
Kathimerini, 03/10/2019: Ex-PM Tsipras urges EU to back entry talks with North Macedonia http://www.ekathimerini.com/245147/article/ekathimerini/news/ex-pm-tsipras-urges-eu-to-back-entry-talks-with-north-macedonia
Reuters, 04/10/2019: Germany pushes compromise on EU talks with North Macedonia, Albania https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN1WJ1RX
Balkan Insight, 09/10/2019: Netherlands Welcomes EU Talks With North Macedonia, not Albania https://balkaninsight.com/2019/10/09/netherlands-welcomes-eu-talks-with-north-macedonia-not-albania/
Politico, 15/10/2019: EU ministers once again fail to reach deal on North Macedonia and Albania https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-ministers-once-again-fail-to-reach-deal-on-north-macedonia-and-albania/
RTÉ News, 15/10/2019: Showdown looming over EU expansion 'soap opera' https://www.rte.ie/news/europe/2019/1015/1083605-eu-accession/
Deutsche Welle, 15/10/2019: France: Deal with 'endless soap opera' of EU accession process before seeking new members https://p.dw.com/p/3RJmX
Swissinfo.ch, 15/10/2019: France holds firm against EU talks with Balkan hopefuls https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/reuters/france-holds-firm-against-eu-talks-with-balkan-hopefuls/45299168
EUObserver, 15/10/2019: France keen to pause EU enlargement https://euobserver.com/enlargement/146267
Hungary Today, 16/10/2019: Foreign Ministry: EU Postponement of Albania, North Macedonia Accession Talks ‘Disastrous’ https://hungarytoday.hu/foreign-ministry-eu-postponement-of-albania-north-macedonia-accession-talks-disastrous/
Balkan Insight, 16/10/2019: Albania Blames Likely Accession Talks ‘No’ on Divided EU https://balkaninsight.com/2019/10/16/albania-premier-blame-eu-for-possible-negative-decision-on-negotiations/
EurActiv, 16/10/2019: France halts EU enlargement https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/france-halts-eu-enlargement/
EUObserver, 16/10/2019: Balkans row to hit EU summit after French veto https://euobserver.com/enlargement/146287
Balkan Insight, 17/10/2019: European Council Fails to Reward North Macedonia, Albania https://balkaninsight.com/2019/10/17/european-council-fails-to-reward-north-macedonia-albania/
EurActiv, 18/10/2019: All eyes on France after inconclusive enlargement summit debate https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/all-eyes-on-france-after-inconclusive-enlargement-summit-debate/
Balkan Insight, 18/10/2019: France Sinks EU Hopes of North Macedonia, Albania https://balkaninsight.com/2019/10/18/france-sinks-eu-hopes-of-north-macedonia-albania/
Reuters, 18/10/2019: France under fire for 'historic error' of blocking Balkan EU hopefuls https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN1WX1CT
EUObserver, 18/10/2019: EU fails to deliver on Albania and North Macedonia https://euobserver.com/enlargement/146329
EUObserver, 18/10/2019: Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls https://euobserver.com/enlargement/146340
BBC News, 18/10/2019: EU blocks Albania and North Macedonia membership bids https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50100201
The Guardian, 18/10/2019: EU failure to open membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia condemned https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/18/eu-refusal-to-open-talks-with-albania-and-north-macedonia-condemned-as-historic-mistake
Politico, 18/10/2019: EU leaders deadlock over membership talks for North Macedonia, Albania https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-leaders-deadlock-over-membership-talks-for-north-macedonia-albania/
Deutsche Welle, 18/10/2019: EU leaders leave Balkan states hanging on accession talks https://p.dw.com/p/3RUN9
BBC News, 02/11/2019: European snub to North Macedonia fuels frustration in Balkans https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50260379
RFE/RL, 04/11/2019: U.S. Envoy: EU Snub Of North Macedonia, Albania 'Historic Mistake' https://www.rferl.org/a/u-s-envoy-calls-eu-s-snub-of-north-macedonia-albania-a-historic-mistake-/30252546.html
EurActiv, 04/11/2019: US envoy knocks EU’s ‘bad message’ to the Balkans https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/us-envoy-knocks-eus-bad-message-to-the-balkans/
Euronews, 02/03/2020: Albania and North Macedonia 'ready for EU enlargement talks' https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/02/albania-and-north-macedonia-ready-for-eu-enlargement-talks
Balkan Insight, 02/03/2020: Commission Reports Raise EU Hopes in Albania, North Macedonia https://balkaninsight.com/2020/03/02/commission-reports-raise-eu-hopes-in-albania-north-macedonia/
Reuters, 02/03/2020: Albania, North Macedonia ready for EU membership talks - Commission https://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKKBN20P20A

Official
European Commission: Press Release, 29/05/2019: Reforms in the Western Balkans and Turkey: annual assessments and recommendations http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-2752_en.htm
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 18/06/2019: Council conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association process https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/06/18/council-conclusions-on-enlargement-and-stabilisation-and-association-process/
Visegrad Group (V4): V4 Statement on the Western Balkans, 12 September 2019 http://www.visegradgroup.eu/documents/official-statements/v4-statement-on-the-190912
European Council: Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting with Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, 17 September 2019 https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/09/17/remarks-by-president-donald-tusk-after-his-meeting-with-prime-minister-of-albania-edi-rama/
European Council: Joint letter by Presidents Tusk, Sassoli, Juncker and President-elect Von der Leyen on the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, 3 October 2019 https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/10/03/joint-letter-by-presidents-tusk-juncker-sassoli-and-president-elect-von-der-leyen-to-the-eu-heads-of-state-or-government-on-the-accession-talks-with-north-macedonia-and-albania/
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 15/10/2019: Presidency conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association process https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/10/15/presidency-conclusions/
European Parliament: Press Release, 24/10/2019: Failure to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia is a mistake https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20191021IPR64717/
European Parliament: Press Release, 30/10/2019: President David Sassoli to visit Skopje: 'Remain on the European track' https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20191030IPR65407/
European Commission: Press Release, 02/03/2020: Commission reports on progress made by Albania and North Macedonia https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_347
European Commission: Press Release, 25/03/2020: Commission welcomes the green light to opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_519
General Secretariat of the Council: Council Conclusions on Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process - the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Albania (25 March 2020) https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-7002-2020-INIT/en/pdf

ESO Records
Communication on a ‘credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’ [February 2018] https://www.europeansources.info/record/communication-on-a-credible-enlargement-perspective-for-and-enhanced-eu-engagement-with-the-western-balkans/

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Record URL https://www.europeansources.info/record/?p=515827