Montenegro wins EU commission endorsement of its membership bid
Nov 9, 2010, 16:34 GMT
Brussels - Montenegro is ready for candidate status to the European Union, but Albania is not, the bloc's executive ruled on Tuesday, delivering the most politically-sensitive calls in its annual round of reports on countries hoping to join the EU.
The European Commission is tasked with checking whether applicants to the bloc are sufficiently stable politically and economically, respect human rights and are capable to apply the bloc's wide-ranging set of laws.
In Montenegro's case, it found that its democracy 'is largely in line with European principles and standards,' and its legal framework on human rights 'broadly corresponds to European and international standards.'
Albania, however, did not win the same endorsement due to lingering political infighting, which has led opposition socialists to boycott parliament after contesting the results of June 2009 elections.
'The effectiveness and stability of democratic institutions is not sufficiently achieved. Parliamentary institutions and procedures do not function properly,' the paper on Albania lamented.
Montenegro, a tiny country of 650,000 people which became independent from Serbia in 2006, knocked on the EU's door in December 2008, but had to wait four months before EU governments agreed to let the commission examine the case.
Tuesday's positive assessment represents a further step towards the ultimate goal of accession. EU governments are now expected to debate granting Montenegro official candidate status and subsequently to agree on the start of membership talks.
But negotiations normally last at least 5 years, with their final result taking up to two years to be ratified: that means that the country is not likely to be welcomed in the EU before 2018-2020.
The commission also issued separate reports on progress with democratic and economic reforms in other EU hopefuls: Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Turkey and Iceland.
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