Macedonia exception: When Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia were approved to open accession talks, they were given a specific date

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Today’s approval by the EU member states to open accession talks with Macedonia and Albania seems optimistic at first glance. But it’s only at first glance.

A closer look at this decision shows that there is no set date, deadline, or commitment to start the talks.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi confirmed that today. He only voiced hope that the date will come very soon.

We on our side as a Commission will speed up our work and we will present very shortly the negotiating framework so that the actual negotiations can start very quickly with both countries, Varhelyi said in the improvised press conference held after the European Council and its teleconference.

The first opportunity to set a date will be the European Council meeting in May in Zagreb, although there is no announcement that it will happen.

What is the experience with other countries in the region
Unlike Macedonia, countries in the region were given a specific date for the start of negotiations.

Croatia joined the European Union in 2013 and the Council set a specific date for the start of negotiations eight years earlier, which was October 3, 2005.

Also, Montenegro, which was not even an independent state when we were granted candidate status, Council set a specific date for the start of negotiations and it was clear and loud – June 29, 2012.

The most recent example is Serbia, which in the decision to start negotiations had a specific date-January 2014 when they really started.