BRUSSELS – The European Commission is set to “immediately” start preparations for EU accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia, a top EU official says.
EU Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn spoke to RFE/RL on June 26 after the bloc’s member states gave a conditional green light to opening accession talks with the two Western Balkan states.
Meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers on June 26 required both countries to demonstrate progress on reforms before the first talks can begin next year.
“The [Foreign Affairs] Council took note that we as the [European] Commission should start immediately preparing the work and this means this famous screening process,” Hahn said.
He was referring to the process in which officials from the European Commission, Albania, and Macedonia will compare the legislation of the EU hopefuls in up to 33 thematic or policy areas such agriculture with the bloc’s legislation and then set benchmarks for the actual accession talks.
The negotiations are to start in June 2019 if EU member states consider that Albania and Macedonia have carried out enough reforms in areas that include the judiciary and security services.
Hahn, whose mandate as commissioner ends in the autumn of 2019, expressed hope that he will oversee the process.
“It is a challenging time frame, but, of course, I would like to conclude what I have started at the beginning of my mandate and, indeed, to get a green light during my time in office.”