Macedonia must not be hostage in budget deal

16 December 2005

Macedonia must not be hostage in budget deal

SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer is the official rapporteur for the European Parliament's response to the application for membership of Macedonia. He fears, however, that all of his work on the issue to date is being put in jeopardy through the 'holding to ransom' of Macedonia in an attempt to reach an agreement over the future EU budget. “The Council should not be treating a possible future member state in this way," said Mr Meijer.

Erik MeijerAccording to Meijer it is important that the Council does not give Macedonia a programme for accession which involves unnecessary delay. “The chance that negotiations with Macedonia take place at the same time as those with Croatia is in danger of being lost," he said. "This is important, because they were both part of Yugoslavia and for this reason have similar legislative codes. Moreover, the two have worked closely together on preparing their applications for membership." Negotiations with Croatia began this autumn.

Delay could also lead to unrest in Macedonia, Mr Meijer believes. “I am afraid that it will be unfavourable to the compromise between the Albanians and Macedonians which enables them to live peacefully together in a bilingual state. This deal came into being only as a result of EU arbitration, and this was successful precisely because both groups attach a great deal of importance to accession to the Union”.

Macedonia is a small country with around 2 million inhabitants, bordered by Greece, an existing member state, and Bulgaria, which is set to become one in the near future. This means that its accession should cost the EU relatively little. "The problems of Macedonia are no greater than those in Romania and Bulgaria, for whom the negotiations have already been wrapped up and which expect to become member states in 2007 or 2008,” said Mr Meijer.

In the spring of 2006 Meijer will again visit Skopje, Macedonia's capital, in his role as European Parliament rapporteur for the country's accession.

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