ZAGREB, Feb 6 (Croatia Sun News) – The Croatian government is confident that the new methodology of the EU accession process will enable the European Council to overrule its decision last year and open negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.
As stated in a government press release, the new methodology presented today by the European Commission “is a step in the right direction for the further evolution of the accession process, which equally takes the interests of all sides into consideration, both the candidate states and EU member states.”
According to the new methodology, the negotiating chapters are divided in six thematic clusters. The cluster which will be opened first and closed last includes the rule of law, economic criteria, and public administration reform.
The remaining clusters are the internal market, competitiveness and inclusive growth, the green agenda and sustainable connectivity, resources, agriculture and cohesion, and external relations. Several clusters can be open at the same time.
The Commission also proposes more decisive measures proportionally sanctioning any serious or prolonged stagnation or backsliding in reform implementation and meeting the requirements of the accession process. Negotiations could be put on hold in certain areas, or even suspended overall, and already closed chapters could be re-opened.
The new methodology “confirms that enlargement remains one of the key EU policies, one which brings political, security, and economical benefits to the Union,” it was stated by the government.
The methodology could also be built into the existing negotiation frames with Montenegro and Serbia, with prior consent from those countries, it was added in the press release.
“The new proposal fits with the goals of the summit between EU member states’ officials and Western Balkans countries which will be held at the beginning of May in Zagreb,” the government emphasised.
In October last year, Paris blocked negotiations with Skopje and Tirana, opposing the wishes of the most of EU member states and the European Commission’s assessment that both countries had done their homework.
Most EU member-states and officials in EU institutions called France blocking negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania a ‘historic error’, due to growing Russian and Chinese influence in the Balkans among other things. Croatia was also among the member states which loudly pointed out that blocking negotiations was wrong.