admin1 – November 9, 2005 – 2:04pm

Presentation of the application

Presentation of the application
of the Republic of Macedonia
for EU membership
during the Irish Presidency
of the Council of the EU.
Dublin, Ireland, March 22nd, 2004.

The Republic of Macedonia presented its application for membership in the European Union on March 22, 2004. The application is a result of a continuous process of rapprochement to the European Union since the independence of the country in 1991. The course of European integration has been supported all along by all relevant political actors in the country and largely by the population.

The accession in the European Union as an ultimate goal of the country – widely viewed upon as a confirmation of the European identity of the Republic of Macedonia, its undeniable belonging and contribution to the European civilisation and culture, identification with European values and ideas, and an opened European perspective.

The European Union clearly opened the perspective for membership to the countries of the region, stated at the Feira EU Council in 2001 and reiterated at the Thessaloniki EU –Western Balkans Summit of 2003.

The Republic of Macedonia is firmly determined to grasp this opportunity and accelerate the process of rapprochement to the EU. Transition reforms have been undergoing in the country since its independence and are now closely converging with the objective of EU accession. Aware that difficult conditions and criteria have to be fulfilled, the authorities of the Republic of Macedonia have clearly set the goals and adopted a Strategy for European Integration.

The Republic of Macedonia established diplomatic relations with the Union in 1995, after the difficulties with the international recognition of the country.  Since then, relations with the European Union and its members have continuously and progressively developed. In 1996 the Republic of Macedonia became a member of PHARE. In 1996 the Cooperation Agreement was signed that entered into force in 1998. In 1999 the European Union launched the stabilisation and association process for the countries of the Western Balkans. The Republic of Macedonia was the first country from the region to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. The Agreement is the first that has been ratified in all EU Member States and entered into force on April 1, 2004.

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement sets out not only the trade relations, but also the gradual alignment of Macedonian policies and institutions with the ones of the European Union, including the area of justice and home affairs. Macedonia has also paid special attention to the implementation of the rules of the Internal Market.

The Interim Agreement on Trade and Trade Issues – a part of the SAA that entered into force in June 2001 allows for preferential access of Macedonian products to the market of the European Union (with the exception of the “sensitive” products, mainly agricultural). Macedonian economy has been closely tied to the European market – the EU is the main trading partner of the Republic of Macedonia, with a share of 47% in total trade (51% pf total exports and around 45% of total imports). Furthermore, the Macedonian currency – the Denar is pegged to the EURO.  

As a small land-locked country, the Republic of Macedonia is committed to an open economy, establishing good neighbourly relations and intensifying regional cooperation. The Republic of Macedonia has taken a constructive stance on developing regional cooperation – in economic and political terms. Macedonia has concluded free trade agreements with all the countries in the region and wider. Thus, an enterprise based in Macedonia has access to a free trade area including EU, Southeast Europe, Turkey and Ukraine.

A national system for coordination of the process of European integration has been set up since 1998, headed by a Deputy Prime Minister. Since November 2002 Ms. Radmila Šekerinska is the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Integration. At a central government level the Sector for European Integration serves as a coordinating body, and at the level of ministries – units for European integration have been established. Complementary is the system for foreign aid coordination, aimed at effective utilisation of the aid funds, mostly coming from the EU and its member states. The main objective is to fully benefit from these programmes, especially in the institution building process. At parliamentary level a Committee on European Issues has been established, charged with control over the Executive, monitoring the legislation approximation process and raising public awareness of the Euro-integration process.   

Following the presentation of its application for membership in the European Union, the Republic of Macedonia is looking ahead to achieving a candidate status and launching negotiations for membership in the European Union. Macedonia will further deliver its commitments taken on in the Stabilisation and Association process and continue to be a reliable partner of the European Union.