European Union Begins Accession Negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia

Dr. E.C. Beuck

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Building with EU flagsDavid Mark from Pixabay

While the Ukraine War continues in Eastern Europe, and the West continues to help Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion and atrocities, those in the EU have some cause for celebration as accession negotiations to integrate North Macedonia and Albania have begun. As of last Tuesday, negotiations on the accession process began in Brussels, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen telling reporters that the people of both Albania and North Macedonia deserve it, and that all of the European Union stands to gain when both are eventually welcomed in as full members. That being said, the road to accession has not been easy for either state.

North Macedonia in particular has struggled through the process of gaining admittance to the European Union since it first became a candidate state in 2005 under the name of Macedonia. Greece initially requested that Macedonia change its name, which was eventually finalized with the Prespa Agreement that added ‘North’ to the country’s name in 2018. Other hurdles have included France’s calling for the enlargement process to be reformed and Bulgaria’s demands for the recognition of historical and cultural ties. Needless to say this has been frustrating for the people of North Macedonia who are in favor of joining the European Union.

Albania, which submitted its application for European Union membership during 2009, has seen its progress tainted by association with its neighbor North Macedonia. It has only been with the advent of the war in Ukraine and Russian rhetoric that potentially threatens the rest of Europe that has led to greater progress being made. The Albanian Prime Minister went so far as to thank the extra efforts of President Emmanuel Macron of France who lobbied on their behalf.

So what happens next? According to the accession negotiation process, there will be a screening that will allow Albania and North Macedonia to acquire greater understanding of their rights and obligations as outlines by the charter of the European Union. From there, each state will be required to implement reforms in their countries to reflect the standards of the European Union, the entire process of which will be monitored and assessed by the European Union itself. Overall the accession for each state will take several years at least. The fact that this process is progressing, however, is a clear indicator of the growing efforts to unify Europe against threats from abroad like Russia, especially as the aggressor in Ukraine has previously made noise about Ukraine only being the first of its targets in Europe.

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Holding a PhD in Political Science, I write about current events and on political topics related to international relations, international law, conflict both between and within states, and the interactions between technology and politics.

Washington, DC
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