The European Parliament on Thursday adopted resolutions noting that Albania, North Macedonia, and Kosovo were making progress towards EU membership by implementing the necessary reforms.
The European Parliament’s rapporteur on Albania, Portuguese Socialist Isabel Santos, told a plenary session that there had been significant progress in the rule of law, election regulations, prevention of organised crime, reform of the judiciary, and the status of the constitutional and supreme courts.
Santos noted that reforms in some areas should nonetheless be stepped up, mentioning in that context lack of progress on freedom of expression and obstacles to the proper functioning of independent media, as well as cases of intimidation, defamation and pressuring of reporters.
Ana Paula Zacarias, who addressed MEPs on behalf of the Council currently chaired by Portugal, commended Albania for having aligned its foreign policy with the EU’s.
Trust in Kosovo’s European future
Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, a member of the German Greens and rapporteur on Kosovo, said the EP had trust in Kosovo’s European future.
No country in the region has a more positive attitude towards the EU than Kosovo, she said.
She stressed, however, that neither Serbia nor Kosovo would be able to join the EU without reaching a comprehensive agreement.
Five EU members – Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain – have still not recognised Kosovo.
The EP called on them to recognise Kosovo, stressing that its independence is irrevocable and criticising Serbia for a campaign that has resulted in several countries having withdrawn their recognition of Kosovo.
The EP also expressed regret in its resolution about limited progress in the implementation of reforms.
It particularly commended Kosovo’s efforts in the fight against radicalisation, terrorism and violent extremism but it expressed concern about efforts by third countries, which were not named, in supporting radicalisation, notably of young people.
Political maturity of North Macedonia
North Macedonia was also commended for its commitment to EU integration, demonstrated through the continued implementation of accession-related reforms and work on resolving bilateral disputes with neighbouring countries.
The resolution on North Macedonia notes that the country has shown a high level of political maturity and that the situation regarding media freedoms is satisfactory.
However, the EP expressed concern about widespread hate speech, notably against Roma and LGBTQI+ persons.
All three resolutions were adopted by more than 500 votes in favour, while some of the deputies of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), the far-right Identity and Democracy group, and the far-left European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) voted against or abstained.