Meeting eight EU conditions by August will be crucial if Macedonia wants to get a date for opening accession talks with the EU this year.
Officials in Brussels made the announcement yesterday. A constructive political dialogue, an effective enforcement of the new police law, the political independence of the public administration and an improvement of the business climate are some of the areas in which Skopje needs to make progress, Macedonian media reported on Monday, quoting unnamed EU officials. The other criteria set for improvement include the speeding up of property registration, the strengthening of the judiciary’s independence, the implementation in a sustainable way of anti-corruption legislation and creating conditions for the employment of the young. On January 18 the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn, announced that he was planning to issue a list of benchmarks for Macedonia. “There is nothing new or unachievable in them,” Rehn said during his meeting in Brussels with Macedonia’s Premier Nikola Gruevski, on Wednesday. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, confirmed to Gruevski on the same day that the benchmarks would be presented to Skopje in March.
Macedonia has formally been an EU candidate for membership since December 2005. In 2007 Skopje missed an opportunity to get a starting date for EU talks, following criticism from Brussels for its constant inter-party quarrels that had stalled the crucial reform process. Reform resumed in parliament in December after the leaders of the main political parties agreed on several key issues, required by the EU as a sign of progress. (B92)