The Centre for European Integration (CEI) within the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” – Skopje (IDSCS) expresses concerns over the European Council’s conclusion on the Republic of North Macedonia. Despite the fact it welcomes the Prespa Agreement with Greece and the Good Neighborly Relations Agreement with Bulgaria as well as the reform progress noted in the European Commission’s 2019 Country Report, the European Council did not propose a date for the start of the accession negotiations again with the explanation that it will come back to this matter no later than October this year.

CEI of IDSCS believes that by postponing the start of the accession talks, EU’s credibility before the citizens and the socio-political actors in North Macedonia and the region will come under question. In addition, the reform progress made is not irreversible. Not opening the accession negotiations may halt the sustainability of these important processes not only in North Macedonia but in the region as well. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the Council makes a final decision by recommending a date for the first inter-governmental conference. This will positively influence the building of the internal cohesion in the country which has deteriorated after the signing of the treaties with Bulgaria and Greece.

At the same time, CEI of IDSCS calls the Government, the state institutions as well as the opposition to continue with the implementation of the required reforms in order to overcome the deficiencies noted by the European Commission pertaining the rule of law and fight against corruption and organized crime. A special focus should be reaching a national consensus beyond the party lines for the Law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office. What is more, CEI of IDSCS asks the Government to publish the negotiating structure and lead this, above all, a societal process in a transparent and accountable manner.