The European Ministers of Foreign Affairs just decided to start opening accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia in June 2019. Before that time both countries need to make concrete steps to reform of their judiciaries and to tackle corruption and organised crime. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) is happy both Albania and Macedonia are given a European prospect, but emphasises that this does not mean the countries will automatically become EU member states.
Schaake: "For Albania and Macedonia, EU membership is an important goal. That allows us to set a high bar when it comes to the rule of law, democracy and human rights. Both countries still have a long way to go. Only when they adhere to all accession criteria will they be able to join the EU. This is why we should refrain from mentioning a date by which accession can be achieved."
"In the east, countries such as Russia, China and Turkey are eager to extend their sphere of influence. If we want to provide the candidate countries in the Balkan with an opportunity for reform, we need to take their European ambitions seriously. Not only will this keep Putin's toxic influence at bay, it also creates stability around our borders. That is also in our own interest."