Photo: European Union
With Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva as chair, EU Member States today set out the path towards opening of accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania in June 2019. The decision is part of the conclusions on the Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process that ministers adopted at today’s General Affairs Council meeting, the last under the Bulgarian Presidency. Discussions on the next long-term budget of the EU and a preparation of the EU leaders’ meeting on 28 June 2018 were other topics on the agenda. The Council also held a hearing under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland.
Commenting on the decision to adopt today’s conclusions, Minister Zaharieva said:
"This is an important day for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania and for the Western Balkans as a whole. Member States have given a clear signal that efforts to reform and foster reconciliation, good neighbourly relations and political dialogue to solve longstanding issues pay off. This benefits the countries themselves but also means implementing the European values that brings them closer to the EU. I am delighted about this great achievement at the end of our Presidency, of which the European perspective of the Western Balkans has been a key priority."
The full text of the Council conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association process is available here.
EU’s European and Foreign Affairs Ministers also prepared the meeting of their leaders on 28 and 29 June. They discussed the draft conclusions, which provide guidance on the following topics from the leaders’ agenda:
- security and defence
- economic issues
- digital Europe, research and innovation
- multiannual financial framework
- external relations
Over lunch, ministers had an exchange of view on the next long-term budget of the EU, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). This was their second discussion on this topic after a first review of the Commission proposal at ministers’ May General Affairs Meeting.
The hearing under Article 7(1) TEU on the rule of law in Poland offered a possibility for ministers to have an in-depth exchange with Poland on the concerns identified in the Commission's reasoned proposal.
More information about today’s meeting is available here.
Pictures and videos are available here.