Currently, the EU includes 28 countries. Albania and Northern Macedonia will be able to become members of the union after checking compliance with the Copenhagen criteria and removing possible obstacles.
The European Union has officially announced the start of accession negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia. About this on Twitter wrote European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhei.
“I’m glad to inform that the EU members today reached a political agreement to start negotiations on the accession of Albania and Northern Macedonia. I heartily congratulate both countries. This decision is a clear signal to the Western Balkans: your future in the EU,” he said.
Very pleased that #EU member states today reached political agreement on opening of accession talks with #Albania and #North #Macedonia. I wholeheartedly congratulate both countries. This also sends a loud and clear message to #WesternBalkans: your future is in EU.
– Oliver Varhelyi (@OliverVarhelyi) March 24, 2020
After the official start of negotiations, the EU should check Albania and Northern Macedonia for compliance with the Copenhagen criteria: political, economic and legislative requirements, including respect for human rights, the rule of law, a market economy, and agree on an accession agreement.
Once potential inconsistencies are resolved, countries will be able to join the European Union.
The European Commission recommended that the Council of the European Union begin negotiations on accession to the EU with Albania and Northern Macedonia in April 2018. The readiness to begin negotiations with these countries was discussed in a strategy published in February 2018, which envisaged the expansion of the European Union by 2025.
However, in October 2019, at the EU summit, the decision to start negotiations was blocked by France. After that, the European Union made changes to the procedure for expanding the bloc, giving national governments more authority in this matter and simplifying the procedure for stopping or restarting negotiations, the European Truth notes.
Now the EU includes 27 countries. The last expansion of the block took place in 2013 – Croatia joined the EU. In 2020, the European Union left Britain.