Failure to give Albania a green light for negotiations should not discourage either Tirana or Brussels. This was hinted at in an interview with MCN by European Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonero. She says both Albania and North Macedonia deserve to open negotiations, but avoids questioning whether the time has come for the two countries to split in the integration process.
“The Council failed to reach an agreement on a negotiating framework for Albania and North Macedonia, which would allow negotiations to open for both countries. It is clear that from the commission's perspective both countries have met the conditions and it is time to move forward. A lot of work has been done and the Commission has worked with the Portuguese presidency to achieve this goal and I think we are entering the final phase. This process must be closed quickly and we must move forward with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible”, she said.
With regards to Albania Pisonero highlighted that despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Albania has continued to show commitment and has achieved consistent and tangible results in key areas identified by the Council. Albania's progress in electoral reform and the rule of law, including the implementation of justice reform, but also when it comes to the fight against corruption and organized crime, has received the Commission's assessment that Albania meets the conditions for maintaining the first intergovernmental conference.
Pisonero reiterated that enlargement policies are a merit-based process. “Both countries have achieved results and we think we can move forward with the process as soon as possible. This is also a matter of trust for the EU. We look forward to holding intergovernmental conferences with both countries as soon as possible, as both have met the conditions to take such a step,” she said.