The meeting of EU leaders, scheduled to gather in Brussels on December 10 and 11, will discuss among other things the two pending negotiating frameworks with Albania and North Macedonia which is the last ‘window’ of hope for these two Western Balkans countries to begin the year 2021 with an achievement towards its integration process with the Union.
This meeting happens against the background of the failure for an unanimous decision by the General Affairs Council which met online on Tuesday. That decision is a negative signal ahead of the EU talks for the two countries which conveys the message that there is no breakthrough for the start of the first intergovernmental round of the talks within 2020.
The panoramic view of stances on the issue is as following.
Bulgaria vetoes North Macedonia’s talks due to disagreements over national identity and language.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has blamed the Netherlands for unjustly blocking the country’s progress in the EU.
German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth of Germany, whose country has struggled to have talks started during their presidency of the EU Council until 2020, urged for support for this to happen. He said that anything short of starting the talks with North Macedonia and Albania, despite the conditions the latter need to meet, would be a serious political mistake “that would harm stability and security in the Western Balkan region” and in the wider Europe.
Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement was also disappointed by the lack of unanimity in the GAC. He said the deadlock must be broken quickly and talks started in a short period.
In an editorial entitled “From whom is the German presidency disappointed?” penned by Ms. Marjana Doda, the chief editor of Argumentum, elaborated some of the causes leading to such a nuisance for the aspirant countries- Albania and North Macedonia as well as for some of the EU members especially for Germany, the rotating presidency of the Union on December 7.
“It is already clear that the EU failed to keep its promises, increasing dissatisfaction not only of theccandidate countries waiting for a green light for their integration but also among some European Union member states,” she said.
Given the general prevelant atmosphere of the expected meeting of EU leaders on December 10-11 Doda concluded by noting: “So more than disappointed, the EU is confused, while the Western Balkans is at a crossroads.”