Von der Leyen: EU must keep promises to Albania and North Macedonia on accession

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a joint press conference with Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic to Zagreb, Croatia, 10 January 2020. Croatia officially starts six-month rotating presidency of the European Union with first plenary session. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO BAT

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The ‘door is open’ for Albania and North Macedonia to join the European Union under current rules, Ursula von der Leyen insisted on Friday at the launch of Croatia’s presidency.

“We have to deliver and keep our promises,” she said — a contrasting stance to French President Emmanuel Macron who had opposed opening talks for the Balkan nations until the process of accession was reformed.

The European Commission president also announced a donor conference on February 17 to raise funds for reconstruction in Albania following the country’s devastating deadly earthquake in November.

Croatia takes over EU presidency for six-month term
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (C-R) and President of the European Commission, Ursula van der Leyen (C-L) pose for a family photo before EU Commission plenary session in Croatian capital Zagreb, Croatia, 10 January 2020. Croatia officially starts six-month rotating presidency of the European Union with first plenary session. EPA-EFE/ANTONIO BAT

Croatia’s turn at the rotating presidency of the EU has rekindled discussions over whether to expand the bloc.

Albania and North Macedonia were meant to begin discussions over formal membership last year, but three EU countries blocked the talks at an EU summit last October.

Albania and North Macedonia submitted their application to join the bloc in 2009 and 2004 respectively and both countries have since taken steps to align themselves with EU standards.

At the summit, then Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called the bloc’s failure to agree on starting membership talks a “grave, historic error”.

Read more via Euronews

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