Albania and Macedonia inch closer to EU standards

11/08/2014

The two countries continue reforms in the judiciary and other key EU accession areas.

By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 11/08/14

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Albania and Macedonia strengthen efforts to advance EU-accession related reforms. [AFP]

Albania and Macedonia are reforming their judiciaries and other key EU accession areas, maintaining the course to get closer to Union membership, experts said. The requirements in the EU-integration process have grown over the years and relate to rules that apply to Union members as well, said Michael Davenport, head of the EU delegation to Serbia.

"The difference is the members fulfil them as obligations arising out of being a member, while the member-candidates as their obligation to become members," Davenport said.

Officials said Macedonia will use 15 percent more funds this year from the allocated 730 million euros to implement the government's strategic priorities and development projects that include EU-related reforms of the judiciary and the fight against corruption and organised crime.

"This is a proof that the government is committed to implementing reforms related to the EU integration process. Macedonia has already made significant progress in implementing EU-agenda reforms, especially regarding national legislation compliance with EU laws," Fatmir Besimi, deputy prime minister for European Affairs, said.

In the first half of this year, the country adopted 11 out of 27 EU laws, engaging 13,000 civil servants and 100 institutions in the process, said Bojan Maricic, director of the Macedonian Centre for European Education in Skopje.

"An accession partnership will be formed ... through which the European Commission and Macedonia will jointly determine the country's tasks for next year," Maricic told SETimes.

Macedonia will also adopt a strategic framework for economic development because reducing unemployment and maintaining macroeconomic stability are also key EU requirements.

Albania officials said the government continues the series of reforms that are directly or indirectly related to the process of the country's integration in the EU though it has not yet prepared a financial bill for them this year.

"More important than the financial bill is the will to move ahead with the reforms. This will is all-inclusive, not only for the government, but for all institutions and the Albanian society," the Albania ministry for integration said in a statement to SETimes.

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Albania's reform focus includes establishing an efficient and de-politicised government administration, strengthening the judiciary's independence, intensifying the fight against corruption and organised crime and protecting human rights.

The ministry added that "the EU supports Albania in a series of other projects which for the first time have a sectorial approach in the priority fields such as agriculture, environment and infrastructure."

Correspondent Linda Karadaku in Pristina contributed to this report.

What can Albania and Macedonia do to enhance the EU accession process? Share your opinion in the comments section.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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