In April 2018, the European Commission recommended to open accession negotiations with Albania. In its June 2018 Conclusions, the Council acknowledged the progress achieved and set out the path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019. Albania has continued its good cooperation on readmission of own nationals, swiftly honoring readmission requests from EU Member States. Albania has engaged in good cooperation with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA) on return operations from EU Member States to Albania. As regards property rights, Albania is taking into account the October 2019 Venice Commission opinion issued at the request of the Albanian Parliament and is revising the draft Law on the Finalization of Transitional Ownership Processes, in consultation with international partners. The new draft is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2020. Efforts need to continue to advance the process for registration and compensation. Albania needs to swiftly adopt the remaining implementing legislation related to the 2017 framework Law on the Protection of National Minorities. The Commission is closely monitoring this matter and will continue to do so in the future. The Commission is also closely monitoring the developments regarding the media law, where the Venice Commission is expected to issue an opinion in March. In relation to the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Albania has sustained its policy to align 100% with EU declarations and decisions.

Regarding Northern Macedonia, in April 2018 the Commission recommended to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia. In its June 2018 Conclusions, the Council acknowledged the progress achieved and set out the path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019. The Council underlined that the assessment of progress should be part of the Commission’s yearly report and include further tangible and sustained results, in particular on: judicial reforms and proactive investigations, prosecutions and final convictions in corruption and organized crime cases, including at high level intelligence and security services reform, public administration reform. In line with the Council Conclusions, the Commission started the preparatory work, including through the technical explanation of chapters of the acquis.
Following the outcome of the European Council in October 2019, the political leaders agreed by common accord to organize early parliamentary elections on 12 April 2020. In line with the national legislation, a technical government, led by Prime Minister Spasovski and including two Ministers and three Deputy Ministers from the main opposition party, was appointed on 3 January 2020. In addition to organizing early parliamentary elections, its strategic priorities include the opening of EU accession negotiations, completing NATO accession, reform of judiciary, fight against corruption and organized crime and implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement.


17.02.2020 - Croatian Minister Nikolina Brnjac, during a speech at the plenary assembly of the European Parliament held from 10 to 13 February 2020 in Brussels concerning the European budget, said that Europe is entering a decisive phase after the December discussions, and that the Croatian presidency will fully support the idea of ​​finding an agreement quickly, despite the fact that it will certainly not be easy given the gaps between the many fields. Croatia currently has the EU's six-monthly presidency. The minister announced that the proposal by the President of the European Council Charles Michel will arrive before the General Affairs Council, therefore by 17 February.

17.02.2020 - During the period from January to November 2019, Bulgarian exportations to the European Union increased by 3.4% compared to the same period of 2018 and amounted to € 18.5 billion. The main recipient countries of Bulgarian exports are Germany, Romania, Italy, Greece, France and Belgium, which represent 66.4% of exports to EU member states. In November 2019, exports to the EU increased by 3.2% compared to the same month of the previous year and amounted to 1.8 billion euros. During the period January - November 2019, compared to the same period of 2018, exports in the "Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and tobacco" sector (+15.7) recorded a significant growth, while the "Raw materials (fuels excluded) "(-15.8%). The trade balance (FOB exports - CIF imports) of Bulgaria with the EU for the period January - November 2019 is negatively worth 815 million euros. (Source: ICE SOFIA)

17.02.2020 - During the meeting held on February 13, 2020, the issue of opportunities for Italian energy companies in Albania has been discussed, focusing on the need for greater regional energy integration to create a more competitive market, on the full and active involvement of the private field in sector reform processes and more generally, the possibility of an electricity hub with the Balkans.

The event was attended by the representatives of Arera, Gme and Terna, already heavily involved in the Western Balkan Region, most recently with the start of the third phase of a project for the exchange of technical knowledge and capacity building in support of the Regulators of Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia which benefits from the financial support of the InCE (Central European Initiative) fund, funded entirely by the Italian government, at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) ".

A road map was also agreed to raise awareness among the Italian government about the opportunity to consider the Balkans as an electric hub. A real green corridor where transmission and distribution networks can make the difference both in import and export.

17.02.2020 - In Hungary, Poland and Ireland the heaviest drops in industrial production were recorded in December 2019 compared to November of the same year. The percentages are respectively of -3.8%, -3% and -6.2%, Eurostat announced. The largest increases in the same period were instead observed in Denmark (+ 7.2% month on month), in Portugal (+ 2.9%) and also in Greece (+ 2.5%), added the statistical office of the EU.

On an annual basis, the largest decreases in industrial production were recorded in Estonia (-9.9%), Romania (-8.9%) and Germany (-7.2%), the largest increases in Malta (+ 7, 6%), Portugal (+3.9%) and Poland (+ 1.3%).

In December 2019, compared to November 2019, seasonally adjusted industrial production decreased by 2.1% in the euro area and 2.0% in the EU27. (Source: Eurostat)

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