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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article19 July 2022Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Press statement by President von der Leyen with Prime Minister Fiala, Prime Minister Rama and Prime Minister Kovachevski on the start of the accession negotiations process and of the screening of the EU acquis

Press statement by President von der Leyen with Prime Minister Fiala, Prime Minister Rama and Prime Minister Kovachevski

Dear Prime Minister Fiala, dear Petr,

Prime Minister Rama, dear Edi,

Prime Minister Kovachevski, dear Dimitar,

What a historic moment. Today, Albania and North Macedonia are opening the accession negotiations to the European Union, and I am so glad to be here with you. This is your success. It is your success and your citizens' success. You and your citizens, you and your people have been working so hard to get here. You have shown so much enduring commitment to our values. You have demonstrated resilience. You maintained faith in the accession process. You strengthened the rule of law. You fought against corruption. You have free media. You have vibrant civil societies. You have done countless reforms and you have modernised your economies. You have made all these changes not just because they were necessary on your path towards the European Union, but above all because they are good for your countries. And they are already delivering a better quality of life for your people. We, the European Commission, have supported you all the way. And we will continue to do so. 

Let me briefly reflect on three topics. First of all, on the negotiations: Right after the Intergovernmental Conference today, the Commission and the negotiation teams from Albania and North Macedonia will start to work. The screening of the EU acquis will start. This is the first step in the process. The screening will enable Albania and North Macedonia to get familiar with the rights and obligations of our Union. From treaties to legislation, to international agreements – you name it. And we will proceed very quickly with that.

My second point is: We will continue to get closer in key areas. For instance, Albania will now join the EU Civil Protection Mechanism– we already started the discussion last month. This will enhance Albania's resilience to natural disasters like floods, forest fires, or earthquakes. Member States know – as some fight terrible fires as we speak right now in this very moment – that the European Union is always there to support when disasters strike.

North Macedonia will very soon negotiate with us the Frontex agreement. So it is about the deployment of Frontex to North Macedonia. This will strengthen our cooperation on migration. And, Dimitar, you can count on my support to ensure that the agreement is translated into the Macedonian language, no footnote, no asterisk, on an equal footing with all 24 EU languages.

My third point is that the benefits will accrue as you will advance with the negotiations. There will be a boost in investment. There will be improved trade links. There will be closer collaboration in key areas, like, for example, energy or transport. You will maximise the use and the impact of EU funding. This means new jobs, new business opportunities. This is what your citizens have been waiting for so long and have been working for so hard – and this is what they deserve.

Finally, Prime Minister Rama, dear Edi,

Prime Minister Kovachevski, dear Dimitar,

Let me address you personally: You have shown so much leadership, so much vision. You have shown strategic patience, Edi, in abundance. And not only but importantly in these challenging times of Russia's brutal war, you have proven time and again your attachment to European values, as true friends and true partners. And I want to personally thank you for that.

Prime Minister Fiala, dear Petr,

Congratulations. Congratulations because the start of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia is a major deliverable right at the beginning of your Czech Presidency. It is building on the work of previous Presidencies. And I know that you will now play an important role to make sure that this process advances swiftly. The people of Albania and North Macedonia deserve it. And we will all stand to gain when one day we welcome Albania and North Macedonia as full-fledged members of our European Union.

Thank you.