Accession of Macedonia to the European Union

Macedonian EU accession bid
Status Candidate
Opened chapters 0
Closed chapters 0
Website Secretariat for European Affairs
EU averageMacedonia
PPP GDP ($M)552,78017,396
PPP per capita ($)40,600{{{national_gdp_ppp_per_capita}}}
Area (km2)165,04825,713

The Republic of Macedonia has been a candidate for accession to the European Union since 2005 but has not yet entered into accession negotiations. It submitted its membership application in 2004, thirteen years after its independence from Yugoslavia. As of June 2014, it is one of six candidate countries, together with Albania, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, after the latest round of enlargement that brought membership to Croatia. Among current obstacles to full membership is the ongoing dispute with Greece over the country's name, which is also the reason why it is officially addressed by the European Union with the provisional appellation "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", rather than its constitutional name, "Republic of Macedonia". Another problem is that there are strained relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria. Accession to the EU has been defined as the highest strategic priority for the country's government.[1][2] The expected accession is currently described as a "medium to long term" prospect.[3]

The government's motto for the candidacy is "The Sun, too, is a star", referring to the sun from the flag of the Republic of Macedonia being displayed among the other stars in the Flag of Europe, in the official logo of the candidacy.


The Republic of Macedonia began its formal process of rapprochement with the European Union in 2000, by initiating negotiations about the EU's Stabilisation and Association Process, and it became the first non-EU country in the Balkans to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), on 9 April 2001 in Luxembourg. The agreement was ratified by the Macedonian parliament on 12 April 2001, and was the first to be ratified by all the member states and come into force on 1 April 2004.

At the same time, on 22 March 2004 in Dublin, Ireland, Macedonia submitted its application for EU membership. On 6 September 2004, the Macedonian government adopted a National Strategy for European integration, supported by the country's parliament through its Commission for European Issues. The government subsequently began the procedure of answering the questionnaire of the European Commission regarding its performance in preparation for membership in accordance with the Copenhagen criteria, a process that was finished by 31 January 2005. The European Council officially granted the country candidate status on 17 December 2005, after a review and a positive recommendation of the candidacy by the European Commission.


This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Republic of Macedonia

A major obstacle for the accession process is the Republic's still-unresolved dispute with Greece over its name. While the country prefers to be called by its constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia, the European Union, in acknowledgment of concerns raised by Greece, has maintained a practice of recognising it only as the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", the compromise "provisional reference" introduced by the United Nations in 1993. Greece, as any other EU country, has veto power against new accessions, and has repeatedly stated that it will block Macedonian accession unless the naming issue is resolved beforehand.[4][5][6] Since 2008, resolution of the naming conflict has also been added to the official preconditions raised by the EU.[7] Sazdovska, Marina Malis, Cane Mojanoski, and Svetlana Nikoloska. "Some Aspects Of Corruption In Republic Of Macedonia." Horizons / Horizonti 16.(2014): 89. Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File. Web. 23 Oct. 2015. In 2006 EU sources criticised the country's leadership under prime minister Nikola Gruevski for its policies against its Albanian minority and the politicisation of many state institutions, warning that these problems may become obstacles to the official start of accession talks.[8]

Bilateral conflicts also exist with Bulgaria, mainly related to conflicting views about the two countries' shared 19th- and 20th-century history and the ethnic separateness of the two nations. Bulgaria joined the EU on 1 January 2007. In July 2006, Bulgarian foreign minister Ivaylo Kalfin and president Georgi Parvanov stated that Bulgaria's support for Macedonian membership might not be unconditional, citing concerns over negative and aggressive attitudes against Bulgaria and Bulgarian history fostered by the Macedonian authorities.[9][10] Defiant answers were reported from the Macedonian political leadership.[11][12]

In October 2012, the European Commission recommended for the fourth consecutive year that membership negotiations with Macedonia be launched. On each previous occasion the opening of negotiations were vetoed by Greece. In 2012 Bulgaria also utilised their veto.[13] Tziampiris, Aristotle. "The Macedonian Name Dispute And European Union Accession." Journal Of Southeast European & Black Sea Studies 12.1 (2012): 153-171. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Oct. 2015. A solution for the long-lasting naming dispute however moved considerably closer, when the Greek foreign minister on 4 October 2012 forwarded a draft for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to settle the question. According to the Euractive website the proposal was answered positively by the Macedonian foreign minister on 8 November 2012.[14] Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, stated that the softening of positions by the two states could allow for accession negotiations to begin before a compromise on the naming dispute was reached.[15] On 11 December 2012, the Council of the European Union concluded that Macedonia could start accession negotiations as early as the second quarter of 2013, conditional on reaching an agreement on its dispute with Bulgaria and Greece. The Council was encouraged that progress on the latter dispute had recently been made by a UN mediator.[16] Milchevski, Ilija. "A Requiem For A Dream: The Name Issue And The Accession Of Macedonia To The EU." International Issues & Slovak Foreign Policy Affairs 22.4 (2013): 40. Supplemental Index. Web. 23 Oct. 2015. However, in February 2013 Füle canceled his planned trip to Macedonia to assess the country's progress on reforms due to ongoing political instability in the country, including the boycott of parliament and the threat to boycott upcoming local elections by the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia. He warned that the stalemate was “putting at risk” the launch of accession negotiations.[17] The political crisis was resolved when the EU brokered a compromise between Macedonia's political parties on 1 March 2013.[18] "Positive Accession Report Looking Likely." Emerging Europe Monitor: South East Europe Monitor 14.9 (2007): 8. Business Source Complete. Web. 26 Oct. 2015. In October 2013 the European Commission recommended for a fifth straight year that accession negotiations with Macedonia be launched.[19] At the most recent meeting of the Council of the European Union in December 2013, the Council for the fifth consecutive year concluded that "the political criteria continue to be sufficiently met", but in regards to making the final decision to open accession negotiations it was only agreed to revisit the issue in 2014. The decision whether or not to start accession negotiations will be made "on the basis of an update by the Commission on further implementation of reforms in the context of the High Level Accession Dialogue, including the implementation of the 1 March 2013 political agreement - and on tangible steps taken to promote good neighborly relations [with Bulgaria] - and to reach a negotiated and mutually accepted solution to the name issue [with Greece]".[20]

The UN mediator, Matthew Nimetz, has invited Greece and Macedonia to a new round of "name dispute" negotiations to begin on 26 March 2014.[21] In February 2014, the European Parliament passed a resolution stating that according to its assessment, the Copenhagen criteria has been sufficiently fulfilled for Macedonia to begin negotiations for EU accession,[22] and called on the Council of the European Union to confirm the date for the launch of accession negotiations straight away, as bilateral disputes must not be an obstacle for the start of talks - although they must be solved before the accession.[23] However, it remains to be seen whether or not the Council decides to agree with the parliament's opinion at its next meeting in June 2014.

As of May 2014 the name dispute was still unresolved,[24] but it was announced that negotiations were to be resumed after the Greek EP election and local elections on 25 May.[25] At the most recent Council meeting in June 2014, the fixing of a start date for Macedonia's accession negotiations was not on the agenda.[26]


Negotiation progress

Acquis chapterEC Assessment at StartCurrent Situation[34]Screening StartedScreening CompletedChapter OpenedChapter Closed
1. Free Movement of Goods Very Hard To Adopt Moderately prepared
2. Freedom of Movement For Workers Further efforts needed Early stage
3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services Further efforts needed Moderately prepared
4. Free Movement of Capital Further efforts needed Moderately prepared
5. Public Procurement Considerable efforts needed Moderately prepared
6. Company Law Considerable efforts needed Good level of preparation
7. Intellectual Property Law Very Hard To Adopt Moderately prepared
8. Competition Policy Very Hard To Adopt Moderately prepared
9. Financial Services Further efforts needed Moderately prepared
10. Information Society & Media Considerable efforts needed Good level of preparation
11. Agriculture & Rural Development Considerable efforts needed Moderately prepared
12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy Considerable efforts needed Some level of preparation
13. Fisheries No major difficulties expected Moderately prepared
14. Transport Policy Considerable efforts needed Moderately prepared
15. Energy Considerable efforts needed Moderately prepared
16. Taxation Considerable efforts needed Moderately prepared
17. Economic & Monetary Policy No major difficulties expected Moderately prepared
18. Statistics No major difficulties expected Moderately prepared
19. Social Policy & Employment Considerable efforts needed Moderately prepared
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy No major difficulties expected Moderately prepared
21. Trans-European Networks No major difficulties expected Good level of preparation
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments Considerable efforts needed Moderately prepared
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights Considerable efforts needed Some level of preparation
24. Justice, Freedom & Security Considerable efforts needed Moderately prepared
25. Science & Research No major difficulties expected Good level of preparation
26. Education & Culture No major difficulties expected Moderately prepared
27. Environment Totally incompatible with acquis Some level of preparation
28. Consumer & Health Protection Further efforts needed Moderately prepared
29. Customs Union Considerable efforts needed Good level of preparation
30. External Relations No major difficulties expected Moderately prepared
31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy No major difficulties expected Moderately prepared
32. Financial Control Very Hard To Adopt Moderately prepared
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions No major difficulties expected Early stage
34. Institutions Nothing to adopt Nothing to adopt
35. Other Issues Nothing to adopt Nothing to adopt
Progress 0 out of 33 0 out of 33 0 out of 35 0 out of 35

Visa liberalisation process

On 1 January 2008 the visa facilitation and readmission agreements between Serbia and the EU entered into force.[35] Macedonia began a visa liberalisation dialogue with the EU in February 2008[35] and was added to the list of visa exempt nationals on 19 December 2009, allowing their citizens to enter the Schengen Area, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania without a visa when traveling with biometric passports.[36]


The Macedonian government has established a management infrastructure for the European integration process on the basis of a paper adopted in 1997 under the title "The strategic bases of the Republic of Macedonia on achieving the membership of the European Union". It consists of the following institutions:

The other institutions supporting the EU integration process are the following:

Impact of joining

Member countries Population Area (km²) GDP
(billion US$)
per capita (US$)
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia 2,058,539 25,713 10.98 4,935 Macedonian
EU28 507,890,191 4,381,376 17,267 32,501 24
EU28+1 509,948,730


  1. "Europa, European Commission". Bilateral relations > The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Retrieved 4 June 2008.
  2. "Europa, The European Union in the World". The European Union Mission to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Archived from the original on 13 January 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2006.
  3. "BBC". EU to disappoint Balkan hopefuls. 3 November 2006. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
  4. "Embassy of Greece – Washington, DC". Answer of FM Ms. D. Bakoyannis regarding the FYROM name issue. Archived from the original on 2 March 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2006.
  5. "United Macedonian Diaspora". Interview with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  6. "Report by B. Khiotis: «Εγώ δεν είπα ποτέ τη λέξη βέτο» (Greek) ("I never used the word veto"), To Vima, 11 September 2007
  7. 1 2 "Macedonia 'Name' Solution Before EU Talks". 20 June 2008.
  8. "". Western Balkans told 'hold' for EU membership. Archived from the original on 22 November 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  9. "Bulgaria's Kalfin suggests support for Macedonia's EU bid is conditional". 25 July 2006. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  10. Jul 31 2006 09:16 CET 2472 Views (31 July 2006). "Bulgaria'S Position Concerning Macedonia Unchanged- Kalfin - Bulgaria". The Sofia Echo. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  11. Aug 07 2006 09:00 CET 2259 Views (7 August 2006). "Foreign briefs - Bulgaria". The Sofia Echo. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  12. "FOCUS Information Agency". Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  13. "Bulgaria vetoes Macedonia's EU accession talks". EurActive. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  14. "FYROM appears to welcome Avramopoulos proposal". Kathimerini (English edition). 8 November 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  15. Rinke, Andreas (9 November 2012). "Macedonia's EU talks could start without name resolution". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  16. "Council conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association process (3210th general affairs council meeting)" (PDF). Council of the EU. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  17. Casule, Kole (15 February 2013). "EU raps Macedonia over impasse". Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  18. "EU ends Macedonian deadlock". European Voice. 2 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  19. "Key findings of the 2013 Progress Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". European Commission. 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  20. "Council conclusions on Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process" (PDF). Council of the European Union. 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  21. "Utrinski Vesnik, Macedonia: Matthew Nimetz sets new round of name issue talks". FOCUS News Agency. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  23. "European Parliament passes the Resolution on FYR Macedonia". Independent Balkan News Agency. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  24. "Greece, Macedonia to consider regional security". Worldbulletin News. 8 May 2014.
  25. "Greek Diplomatic Sources: The Name Negotiations to Continue after the Greek Elections". 8 May 2014. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014.
  26. "Macedonia not on the agenda of the June European Council summit". Mactel. 26 June 2014.
  27. European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the 2006 Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  28. "EP adopted report on Macedonia". Makfax. 12 July 2007.
  29. "Macedonia PM in Greek outburst after EU summit". EurActiv. 23 June 2008. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011.
  31. "All Balkans Home". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  32. Iceland, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, European Parliament Press Release. Retrieved from, 15 March 2012.
  33. "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  35. 1 2 "EU-the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia relations". European Commission. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  36. "EU lifts visa restrictions for Serbia". 30 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.

External links

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