ZAGREB, March 18, 2020 – Croatia’s EU presidency has proposed that a decision be made next week to launch accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, and that the first intergovernmental accession conference be called immediately after a negotiating framework is adopted.
Draft conclusions that were made available to Hina and that the General Affairs Council is expected to adopt at its next meeting on March 24 propose that a decision be made to launch membership talks with both countries.
Talks on the draft conclusions will first be held at the level of member-countries’ ambassadors before the document is discussed by European affairs ministers.
The text of the conclusions must be unanimously supported by all member-countries, which is why changes to the proposed draft are possible before its adoption.
This decision, if adopted by the Council of Ministers, should also be supported by the European Council, that is, heads of state or government, at a summit meeting on March 26-27.
Under the draft conclusions, the Council is to invite the European Commission to present a draft negotiating framework for both countries as soon as possible and by June at the latest.
The negotiating framework is a key document that defines how and based on which principles accession talks will be conducted.
The negotiating framework needs to be adopted unanimously by all member-countries and it is a precondition for calling the first intergovernmental accession conference, at which talks are formally launched.
Work on harmonising the text of the negotiating framework can take time.
According to the draft conclusions, the first intergovernmental conference should be called as soon as possible after the negotiating framework is adopted.
Officials at Croatia’s Permanent Representation to the EU would not comment on the draft document, saying only that despite the current crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, they work intensively on other portfolios as well, such as enlargement, which is one of the priorities of Croatia’s EU presidency.
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