Explained: What’s behind North Macedonia’s long road to the European Union?

Explained: What’s behind North Macedonia’s long road to the European Union?

Read our daily dose of Current Affairs wherein we talk about the crucial updates of national and international importance. In today’s edition, we will discuss What’s behind North Macedonia’s long road to the European Union.

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Prelims: European Union (EU), the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), Eurozone, Euro area, Balkan Countries.

Mains: International Institutes, Issues of International Importance

Context

The debate over joining the European Union caused violent protests in North Macedonia leaving dozens injured.

Probable Question

 As a reaction to the Ukraine Russia war, reshuffling and alliance formation has been observed in Europe. Discuss some of the issues faced by small Balkan countries.  

What is the dispute about?

  • The EU’s efforts to bring Ukraine closer following the Russian invasion have gained the attention of the Western Balkan countries. 
  • Balkan countries like North Macedonia, and Albania see joining the 27-nation bloc as a means of securing stability and prosperity.
  • North Macedonia has been an EU candidate for 17 years, however Greece kept holding up North Macedonia’s EU and NATO membership bids for years. There was a veto by EU member Bulgaria as well.
  • Greece was outraged due to the name chosen ‘Macedonia’ by North Macedonia, whereas Bulgaria accused the country of disrespecting shared cultural and historic ties.
  • Bulgaria demands an acknowledgment that the language of North Macedonia is derived from Bulgarian and the recognition of a Bulgarian minority.
  • To break the deadlock from joining the EU, France has put up a proposal for a compromise to address Bulgaria’s concerns, this led to rifts in both Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
  • At present Bulgaria has accepted the French proposal, which now requires the backing of North Macedonia’s parliament.

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About European Union (EU)

  • It is a group of 27 countries that hold the same ideals: a peaceful, united, and prosperous Europe.
  • It was formed to unite European countries and to end warfare among them by having a standardized system of laws.
  • All EU countries are part of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), but only 19 of 27 EU member countries constitute the Eurozone, as they have the euro (€) as the official currency and are officially called the euro area.
  • Member countries:
    • Euro area countries – Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
    • Non-Euro area countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Sweden.
  • To hold the executive and legislative power of the Union, the EU has three political institutions – 
    • The Council of the European Union represents governments
    • The Parliament represents citizens
    • The Commission represents the European interest.
  • The Council of the EU, under which government ministers from each EU country meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws, and coordinate policies.
  • Major Aims:
    • Promoting peace, security, justice, and freedoms without internal borders and respecting fundamental rights.
    • Establish an internal market and an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro.
    • Protect and improve the quality of the environment.
    • Promote scientific and technological progress.
    • Combat social exclusion and discrimination.
    • Promote social justice and protection.
    • Respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity.
  • Motto: “United in diversity” was adopted as the European Union’s motto in 2000.

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Joining EU

The country willing to join the EU has to go through a pre-accession period:

  • They need to submit a membership application to the Council.
  • Then the applicant country is supposed to meet the conditions for membership.
  • These conditions are known as the ‘Copenhagen criteria’ that majorly includes –
    • A stable democracy and the rule of law
    • A functioning market economy
    • The acceptance of all EU legislation, including the euro.
    • Implementation of EU rules and regulations in all areas as national law.
  • The candidates are supported financially, administratively, and technically by the EU.
  • At present countries such as Albania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine are in the process of ‘transposing’ (or integrating) EU legislation into national law.
  • Other potential candidate countries Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Kosovo do not yet fulfill the requirements for EU membership.

Way Forward

  • The French proposal offers North Macedonia a chance to start membership talks with the EU.
  • It is unfair of the proposal to ask a small nation to give up its language, history, and constitution-making powers to external powers.
  • International order should be based on fairness and rationality. 
  • The long-term, prosperous future of the nation and growth should be the first priority of any government.

Source: The Indian Express

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