The European Union has begun negotiations on the accession of Albania and North Macedonia to the EU. This was announced by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
“You and your citizens have worked hard for this. You have shown an unwavering commitment to our values,” stressed the President of the European Commission.
At this stage, Albania and North Macedonia should "become familiar with the rights and obligations of EU members." The accession procedure itself includes such stages as filing an application, obtaining candidate status, negotiations, ratification and integration. Prior to this, countries received candidate status: Albania in 2014, and North Macedonia in 2005.
For two years, Bulgaria blocked the start of negotiations on the entry of North Macedonia into the EU. Sofia demanded changes in the country's laws regarding the rights of the Bulgarian minority and the use of the Bulgarian language. France invited North Macedonia to recognize at the legislative level the Bulgarian national minority and the fact that the Macedonian language has Bulgarian roots. On July 16, the Macedonian parliament adopted the French formula, thus triggering three days of mass opposition protests. Bulgaria, in turn, lifted its veto on North Macedonia's EU membership.
The process of accession to the EU does not imply a specific time frame. In the history of the association, Austria, Finland and Sweden were the fastest to join in less than two years, while Croatia had to wait eight years for admission to the European Union after the start of membership negotiations.