Varhelyi: Accesion talks with Macedonia and Albania could begin after June

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European Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said that the actual opening of accession talks for Macedonia and possibly Albania can be expected after June. Both countries were given an approval to open the accession talks yesterday, but no specific date was set.

We want to submit both negotiating frameworks for the two countries as soon as we can. In the text it is said immediately. Immediately in this work would mean that the Council should be able to discuss it together with the annual enlargement package which is due to be discussed in the Council in June. We are now preparing with both countries negotiating frameworks because first we need to prepare it with “North” Macedonia and Albania and then we come to the Council very quickly, Varhelyi said in an interview with 360 Degrees. When asked whether talks can begin in June, the Hungarian nominated commissioner said that “I think it will take a bit of time for the member states still to agree on the negotiating framework”.

Varhelyi dismissed the claims that Macedonia and Albania got a boost from the coronavirus epidemic.

Before the decision I was told that because of the coronavirus it was not going to be possible. But I could even go as far as to say that if it is easier to make decisions during the coronavirus crisis, why don’t we decide on the MFF financing framework now. Come on, it has nothing to do, it’s the other way around. It was a strategic decision, it was a very importing decision and this only shows that the new methodology in place and with the much more serious reporting activity, and the very serious commitment by both countries and the results the member states despite the crisis wanted to send a very clear and loud signal to the region that if you deliver we are also ready to deliver. This is the first principle of our new enlargement strategy – credibility and credibility was served yesterday, Varhelyi said.

Although Macedonia is seen as more advanced than Albania and the Council decision contains a number of additional preconditions for Albania, according to Varhelyi it’s possible that both countries hold their first conference with the EU – the actual opening of accession talks – at the same time.