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New Negotiation Methodology: Croatia convinced of opening negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania

Met dank overgenomen van Kroatisch voorzitterschap Europese Unie 1e helft 2020 (Kroatisch voorzitterschap), gepubliceerd op woensdag 5 februari 2020.

Proposed new methodology of accession negotiations is a good step forward in further evolution of negotiating process, taking equally into account interest of all sides, candidate countries and EU Member States alike.

By putting equal emphasis on predictability, credibility, stronger political steering and efficiency of the process, new methodology widens the space for additional dynamics, providing that all benchmarks, criteria and reform goals set for candidate countries are met in full.

New proposal is fully compatible with the goals of EU - Western Balkans summit that shall take place in Zagreb, in early May. Particularly in regards to the proposal to organize regular high-level dialogues and deeper analysis in key moments of accession processes.

European Commission's document points out well European perspective of the Western Balkans in times of new geopolitical challenges and needs. It confirms that enlargement remains a key policy of the EU and in the Union's very own political, security and economic interest.

We welcome the proposal to better us the Stabilization and Association Process and to align negotiating chapters with Stabilization and Association Agreements sub-committees. This should strengthen efficiency of negotiating process, as well as its political steering.

We find especially important the proposal for enhancing the predictability of the process through good planning and setting clear conditions. These conditions will be strict, but also objective, precise and verifiable at any given moment.

Achieving the progress in negotiations, through fulfilling all conditions and benchmarks, shall enable faster and higher integration of the candidate countries, as well as increased financing through pre-accession instruments and investments. On the other hand, in case of stagnation or serious backsliding in reforms, EU Members States shall be able to put on hold negotiations in certain areas, re-open or reset already closed chapters, or suspend the overall process.

New methodology is intended for the future accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. This methodology can also be incorporated into existing negotiating framework for Montenegro and Serbia, with the agreement of these two countries.

We believe that this new methodology, together with new European Commission's assessment of reform efforts of Albania and North Macedonia, shall enable European Council to reach in March the decision on the opening of accession negotiations with these two countries.

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