Brussels, 9 November 2010
Key findings of the progress reports on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
On 9 November, the Commission adopted its 2010 Enlargement package. It comprised a Strategy paper, the Opinions on the membership applications by Montenegro and Albania and seven Progress Reports on the other candidate countries and potential candidates, including on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. On the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Commission concluded that the country continues to sufficiently fulfil the political criteria. Following substantial reforms in 2009, further progress has been made in key reform areas although at an uneven pace.
Following the adoption of the Report, Commissioner Füle stated: "This report confirms that the country is ready to start accession negotiations. These negotiations will help to tackle a number of important challenges such as strengthening the rule of law and public administration as well as increasing competitiveness and reducing unemployment. I hope the name issue can be resolved and that we may start this process which is so crucial for the country's future. "
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to sufficiently fulfil the political criteria. Overall, the governing coalition is stable and there is cooperation between political forces. Some progress has been achieved as regards the reform of the parliament, the police, the judiciary, public administration and cultural and minority rights. However, further efforts are needed in areas related to the political criteria, in particular as regards independence of the judiciary, fight against corruption, reform of public administration and freedom of expression in the media. Political dialogue needs to be strengthened.
The country made further progress towards becoming a functioning market economy. In order to enable it to cope over the medium term with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union, it needs to continue reforming and strengthening its legal system and to implement its reform programme to reduce the structural weaknesses.
The economy contracted slightly in 2009 due to resilient private capital inflows and a stable public sector demand. Monetary and fiscal policies were stability oriented. The country's external balances improved, reflecting a slight recovery in exports and a drop in imports.
Structural reforms have continued, albeit very high structural unemployment persists, in particular among young people and the less educated. Some improvements have been achieved with respect to addressing institutional weaknesses and to reducing barriers to market entry and exit, but some deficiencies in the rule of law continue to have a negative bearing on the business climate and on Foreign Direct Investment inflows.
Further progress was made in aligning legislation, policies and administrative capacity with the EU, in particular as regards the free movement of goods, company law and financial services. Good progress was also made on alignment with EU policies in the area of justice, freedom and security. Efforts to address the new rise in asylum applications in EU Member States are ongoing.
Less progress has been achieved in other areas such as public procurement, information society and media as well as social policy and employment. Sustained efforts are needed to strengthen administrative capacity for the implementation and enforcement of legislation.
EU- former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: KEY DATES
2001: Ohrid Agreement signed; Constitution amended
April 2001: Signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)
March 2004: Application for EU membership
April 2004: Entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)
December 2005: Obtaining the status of candidate country
October 2009: The Commission recommends the opening of accession negotiations
December 2009: Visa liberalisation into force
More information at:
European Union Delegation in Skopje: http://www.delmkd.ec.europa.eu/en/index.htm