Albania and North Macedonia are facing new delays in their course to enter the European Union, one year after the decision to begin accession negotiations this month, following pressure from France, Denmark and The Netherlands.
The European Council last June indicated a pathway towards accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia, according to which June 2019 would have seen the start of accession negotiations.
"It's unfortunate that a minority of member states were not able to support the Commission's clear proposal to open accession negotiations with Albania and with North Macedonia, already today. Our collective credibility is at stake and our incentives and leverage for tough reforms across the region are equally, so to say, at stake," said Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.
Despite the recommendation of the European Commission at the end of May for the start of accession talks with the two Balkan countries, the German parliament postponed taking a decision until September, while The Netherlands parliament has ruled out opening negotiations with Albania.
Last year, Greece and the then Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ended a years-long dispute over the Balkan country's name after Athens and Skopje reached an agreement to rename the country the Republic of North Macedonia, which was also meant to pave the way to Nato membership and the start of EU accession talks.
Albania and North Macedonia had hoped that European ministers would have given the green light during the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, something that would have opened the road for approval at the European Council meeting next week.