North Macedonia: European Commission calls for green light to kick off negotiations

North Macedonia: European Commission calls for green light to kick off negotiations

North Macedonia has stepped up its efforts and has secured further tangible and sustainable results in key areas. The basis upon which the Commission will propose the start of the accession negotiations with North Macedonia is still in force”, the European Commission report notes.

The last hurdle that could have been raised before the European leaders’ decision at the Summit, according to diplomatic circles, has been overcome today – the European Commission in the soon-to-be-released report will decide to recommend the opening of negotiations with North Macedonia. “North Macedonia has stepped up its efforts and has secured further tangible and sustainable results in key areas identified in the 2018 Council Conclusions. Therefore, the basis upon which the Commission will propose the opening of the accession negotiations with North Macedonia remains in force”, the European Commission report cites.

The report, which is brief and concise, states that the Commission is monitoring the situation in three key areas: first, judicial reform and a proactive approach to investigations, prosecutions and convictions for corruption and organized crime; furthermore, security and information reform; third, public administration reform.

It also notes “the build-up of the pace in implementing the reforms provided by the judicial reform plan”, as well as in addressing the “priorities for urgent reform”. The report cites the dismissal of six judges as good practice, including the former president of the Skopje Criminal Court, alongside the removal of the immunity of a judge from the Administrative Court. It also states that the Akmis control system is a positive step, as is the new law to eliminate deficiencies in court cases.

The adoption of the new prosecution law is mentioned, the purpose of which, according to the European Commission, was to ensure accountability for violations of the law and complete closure until a final court decision in cases where the Public Prosecutor’s Office was initiated. The report cites good practice by the Office of the Prosecutor for the prosecution of organized crime in relation to independent investigations into the indictment of more former and current senior officials.

The report also addresses the bloody events of April 27, 2017 in Parliament and highlights the closure of the verdict for most defendants, as well as new charges for organizing a violent invasion and the carry-out of an effective investigation.

The EC also stresses the role of the Commission against Corruption, reports 66 open cases and notes that it is expected by the competent bodies to act upon the recommendations of the Committee.

As regards security and information reforms, the new laws on the Operational Technical Bureau and the National Security Agency distinguish between the old and the new surveillance system. It also refers to the enhanced oversight capacity of the Convention.

Public administration reform focuses on activities to improve transparency and accountability in the administration, as well as efforts to digitize and simplify citizens’ access to basic services.

As far as we know, this report differs from previous European committees in that it entails more quantitative assessments and lacks knowledge in individual chapters. Obviously, the new European Commission adopts a different method and language of action compared to the previous ones.

It is now up to European leaders to decide whether to kick off negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania at the March 26th Summit. French President Emmanuel Macron, who vetoed the commencement of the negotiations at the October Summit, recently told the Munich Security Conference that Paris was awaiting the European Commission’s report which should guide the French decision. This was also confirmed by statements made last week by French Minister for European Affairs Amelie de Montschallen. /ibna