18th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Committee between the European Union and the Republic of North Macedonia
The 18th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Committee between the European Union and North Macedonia (SA Committee), due to have been held in Brussels, took place virtually on 29 June 2021. The meeting was co-chaired by Ms Kalinka Gaber, State Secretary for EU Affairs of North Macedonia and Ms Michela Matuella, Acting Director for the Western Balkans in DG NEAR.
The SA Committee meeting welcomed the important decision taken unanimously by EU Member States in March 2020 to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia. The meeting took note of this important step in North Macedonia’s accession process, underscoring the importance of the adoption of the Negotiating Framework by the Council and holding the first Intergovernmental Conference as soon as possible.
The SA Committee took stock of the progress achieved and called on all political parties and national stakeholders to work jointly on maintaining and strengthening political dialogue. It encouraged continued implementation on the EU-related agenda, including in key areas such as the judiciary, fight against corruption and organised crime, the intelligence services, public administration, in an inclusive and transparent manner. It recalled the role of the Parliament in this regard as forum for constructive political dialogue. Addressing remaining OSCE/ODIHR recommendations, in a transparent and inclusive manner, will be also important ahead of the next elections. The SA Committee welcomed the adoption of the Human Resources strategies for prosecutors and judges, emphasizing the need for their implementation. The adoption of the National Strategy for the Prevention of Corruption and Conflict of Interest and the efforts to strengthen the capacities of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption were noted. The SA committee recalled the importance of ensuring that all institutions in charge of fighting against corruption are provided with the necessary resources to carry out their mandate.
The SA Committee took stock of the state of play in relation to the political and economic criteria, alignment with the EU legislation (acquis), as well as implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. It recognised the difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the progress that had been achieved during the year in advancing EU reforms, especially in the areas of the fundamentals, the recommendations in the Commission’s 2020 report and the conclusions of SA Sub-Committees, as well as the guidance provided in the context of the Economic Reform Programme.
In line with the EU’s March 2020 Council Conclusions, the delegations reconfirmed that good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation remain essential elements of the enlargement process, as well as of the Stabilisation and Association Process.