Germany says Albania and North Macedonia should be allowed to swiftly join EU

Olaf Scholz warns that delay will leave Western Balkans open to ‘outside influence’ like Russia

<p>German chancellor Olaf Scholz </p>

German chancellor Olaf Scholz

The German chancellor has called for the European Union to swiftly conclusion access talks with the western Balkans countries and welcome them as members.

Speaking on Monday Olaf Scholz, who took over from Angela Merkel last year, said North Macedonia and Albania should be allowed to join.

“Every further delay makes Western Balkans more vulnerable to third party influence," Mr Scholz, a social democrat, said at a joint press conference following a meeting with the Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson.

“It is clear for both Germany and Sweden that the EU must push ahead with institutional reforms to make itself capable of enlargement."

His comments come as EU enlargement shoots up the agenda thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – which wants to join the bloc.

Albania and North Macedonia have been candidate countries for joining the EU since 2020, but they have made little progress in the labyrinthine process.

EU authorities have concerns that the Western Balkan states do not meet standards for corruption, politicisation of the judiciary, and rule of law.

The 27 EU presidents and prime ministers did not focus on EU accession at last week European Council summit in Brussels – instead spending time on the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis.

Last week Mr Scholz also said the Western Balkans should be admitted EU membership to secure peace.

But other countries such as France are more sceptical of enlarging the union, at least in its current state. French president Emmanuel Macron has previously said the enlargement process is not fit for purpose and briefed vetoed any enlargement.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in