EU foreign ministers have achieved a compromised solution about the accession negotiations with Macedonia and Albania starting in June 2019. Nevertheless they have also set conditions for this to happen.

The causes for the postponement are coming from several countries which believe that the reforms in Skopje and Tirana, and especially the fight against corruption and following the rule of law, are not convincing enough. These include the Netherlands and France.

The four conditions are to carry out urgent reforms, apply the name agreement between Skopje and Athens, which would lead to a positive EC report and then a decision of the EU Council.

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said the decision of the EU Council of Ministers to appoint a date for the start of negotiations means that the European Commission may start the monitoring process as early as this week.

Skopje, who has been an EU candidate since 2005, resolved earlier this month the 27-year dispute with Greece and changed its name to Northern Macedonia. It was condition for Athens to overthrow its veto over Macedonia EU and NATO membership, but that was not enough.

However, the main Member States’ doubts come from the recommendation for Albania, which is found by some of them to be insufficiently convincing, as well as the progress in reforms and compliance with the law. Tirana is an EU candidate since 2014.

The decision of the European Ministers was taken at the last meeting of the EU Council within the framework of the Bulgarian Presidency.

The European Commission should come up with a report focusing on three main themes: public administration reforms, intelligence services reforms, judicial reform and the fight against corruption. On the basis of this report, Macedonia will be able to hold an intergovernmental conference by the end of 2019.

After the EU Council decides to start the negotiations from second half of next year, the EC gets the task of preparing itself. It is expected by the end of the week that the decision should be made and confirmed by the European Council.