It is a great pleasure to welcome the delegations from Albania and North Macedonia to this inaugural meeting of the screening process.
Today is an important moment for everybody, we have reached a new level in our cooperation.
Just few hours ago, we held the political Intergovernmental Conferences with North Macedonia and the Intergovernmental Conference with Albania.
Now, we immediately show that we do not want to lose one single momentum to act. This afternoon, we are immediately moving to the screening process of the acquis.
We have been waiting for this moment for so long. Let’s reverse the things now: let’s accelerate the pace of the accession process. We have the necessary tool in our hands to make this happen: the revised methodology. The revised methodology with its main element could accelerate this process: our common path can be more predictable, more dynamic, more credible and can be subject of a joint and reinforced political steer.
This screening process what we launch today is the first step in the negotiation process and we want to advance steadily.
The screening process also features one of the main elements of the revised methodology like grouping the chapters in more coherent clusters.
Of course, we are not starting our collective work from scratch. We have done together lot of work over the past years in the context of the Stabilisation and Association Agreements and preparation were done in 2018 and 2019, too.
During the previous years we have been providing advice and financial assistance to support your efforts to align and implement EU policies and legislation.
During the previous years we have been regularly reporting on your progress and helped you to focus on further reform efforts.
The process we are starting today is building on all the good work we have already done together. And this is the moment when I have to thank you again, what you have done in the past on this European path.
I would like to grasp this moment to give you also a very short introduction about the framework of this Screening process.
Let me start by saying that this screening process is a major opportunity for you, for Albania and for North Macedonia to self-assess your policies and legislation to better understand how close you are in meeting the EU standards in each area and what are the reforms to be done.
After our explanatory part which is about sharing our EU policies and legislation with you, I look forward to our bilateral dialogue. This bilateral dialogue will be the core of our future discussions, this bilateral dialogue will bring us closer and closer to our collective aim: to your membership.
On the basis of these bilateral meetings, we will draft the so-called ‘screening reports’, in which we will inform the Council and the Member States about the state of negotiations and how we should conduct these negotiations with you. The screening process will cover the entire spectrum of the EU policies and legislation – organised in six clusters covering the 33 chapters of the EU acquis.
Over the next months, we will have a very intense work programme, starting with the fundamentals cluster.
This exercise will require the mobilisation – directly or indirectly – of a large number of experts in both the Commission services and your respective administrations. Our contacts will significantly widen and intensify.
I know that the administrations in both Albania and North Macedonia have been preparing for this demanding exercise for years. And I encourage you to continue your efforts to ensure effective coordination and fruitful participation. I can assure you that me and my services will be always next to you on this and will provide you any help you need.
The screening process is much more than a technical exercise among civil servants. It is an opportunity also for civil society, business and citizens to get more familiar with the EU policies and legislation. Again, rest assured that we will support all your efforts to this aim.
The screening will help us and all stakeholders to focus on issues that really matter for people and business in their daily life. We will touch upon real daily issues. The quality of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the capacities of the health sector, the protection of personal data and the supply of our energy. These are only a few examples.
The accession negotiation process is a transformative process as well as a process to build a common understanding. Benefits will build up as you progress. You will see this in our common future. Investments, improved trade links, closer collaboration in key sectors such as energy and transport. New good jobs, business opportunities. This is what the young generation wants. This is what your citizens deserve. The Economic and Investment Plan, the other basic pillar of our cooperation will also deliver this for you.
Of course, the accession process should be seen also as a comprehensive and ambitious reform programme in this regard. And to be successful on this, our future common work needs to be based on an objective, clear and fair analysis of the state of play and what remains to be done. This is what the screening will provide. This is why the screening is important.
We are undertaking today the first step of the accession negotiations process that will lead Albania and North Macedonia to become Members of the European Union. Let this process begin!
I wish good and speedy work to all!
I hope that we can start delivering the first screening reports as early as the first quarter of next year.
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- 20 liepa 2022
- Kaimynystės politikos ir plėtros derybų generalinis direktoratas