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European Union; Macedonia: Membership Talks

(Nov. 2, 2007) On November 7, 2007, the European Commission published the Enlargement Package. It includes the Commission's annual strategy document on future enlargement and a summary of the progress made by each candidate. Current candidates include Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and Turkey. The Package will also include the 2007 progress reports for each candidate country, which will highlight their respective development towards and overall progress, or lack thereof, in meeting EU membership requirements.

Preliminary readings indicate that the European Union will not commence accession talks with FYROM, which became a candidate member in 2005. The European Commission based its decision on FYROM's lack of significant progress in various fields. Specifically, the report states that the Parliament and the government are not functioning properly and efficiently. In the Parliament, due to ongoing disagreements between the ruling party and the opposition, the legislative process has been slowed down considerably. The Commission noted that there was some progress in the areas of public administration and judicial system reform. In the former field, the law on civil servants is slowly being implemented, but the full and effective implementation of police reform is still problematic. In general, in the Commission's view, public administration was weak and inefficient. Officials are dismissed on a whim and, as a result, the normal functioning of the administration is often disrupted. In the area of judicial reform, the Commission noted that the overall impact of the reforms has been limited and that the government of FYROM needs to augment its efforts to ensure full independence, efficiency, and accountability of the judiciary.

Another thorny issue is the lack of progress in the official name used by FYROM. Greece has objected to the name Macedonia used by FYROM since it became an independent state in 1991, because Greece's northern area is also named Macedonia. The Greek government claims that FYROM may advance territorial claims in the future by virtue of that name, and also partly because of certain provisions in FYROM's Constitution, although some of the key controversial provisions have now been retracted. With regard to this issue, the European Commission calls on both governments to renew their efforts to find a common solution acceptable to both parties. (Elitsa Vucheva, EU to Delay Launch of Membership Talks with Macedonia, EUOBSERVER.COM, Oct. 31, 2007.)