BRUSSELS — The European Union on Tuesday is starting the long enlargement process that aims to lead to the membership of Albania and North Macedonia in the bloc.
Any expansion beyond the 27 EU member states is likely to be years off, and both nations were already considered potential candidates 19 years ago. Despite the stalling, the Western Balkan nations have persevered in their ambition to become part of the world’s most important trade bloc.
“Today, Albania and North Macedonia open accession negotiations with the EU. This historic moment is your success. The result of your hard work,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the prime ministers of Albania, Edi Rama, and North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski.
Officially, the process was kicked off with the presentation of the negotiating frameworks, which will allow the EU head office to screen how well each nation is prepared to take on all the laws, rules and regulation of the bloc.
The move comes at a crucial time for the EU, which has just reached out to war-torn Ukraine to offer it the perspective of membership even though Western Balkan nations were kept in the waiting line for such a long time.