The European Union and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The European Union began funding projects in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia through the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) in 1992. European Union assistance has since increased to some €767 million between 1992 and 2005. This includes €91 million in assistance which ECHO distributed to help the government provide shelter, health care and educational facilities for refugees following the 1999 Kosovo crisis. EC humanitarian assistance (ECHO) was progressively phased out in 2002 due to an overall improvement in the humanitarian situation in the country. ECHO activities were eventually terminated in March 2003.
Assistance has also been disbursed through the PHARE/OBNOVA programmes (€259 million) to support the reform of the economy and improve infrastructure. Within these mainstream assistance programmes, the EU has assisted in training personnel to reform the country’s banking, public administration and judicial sectors, while also supporting such projects as the development of a national environmental policy.
The EU proposed in 1999 a new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South Eastern Europe. On 16th June 1999, negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were launched and a Stabilisation and Association Agreement was signed with the European Union on 9th April 2001. This made the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia the first country from the western Balkans to enter into such an agreement with the European Union. The political significance of the Agreement is very high as it confers on the country the status of potential candidate, thus opening up the possibility of future accession to the European Union. The Agreement has amongst its objectives: the introduction of a free trade regime between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and its neighbours in South Eastern Europe, as well as the EU Member States; the harmonisation of the legislation with the EU’s regulatory framework; and promoting cooperation between its environmental, energy, telecommunications and transport sectors. As a result of this cooperation Agreement, the country now benefits from asymmetric trade preferences with the EU.
Within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Process, political and economic relations between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the European Union are advancing fast. For latest developments, please see the website of the European Commission's Directorate General for Enlargement, based in Brussels, and the website of the Delegation of the European Commission to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, based in Skopje.
Progress of EU – former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia relations
The Commission closely monitors progress on political, economic and other reforms in the country and will present a Report to the Council on the progress achieved by the country no later than at the end of 2006.
17 December 2005
- Following the Commission’s recommendation, the European Council grants a candidate status for EU membership to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
9 November 2005
- The Commission adopted its Opinion. The Opinion of the Commission analyses the country’s application on the basis of its capacity to meet the criteria set by the Copenhagen European Council of 1993 and the conditions set for the Stabilisation and Association Process for the Western Balkans.
1 November 2005
- Mr. Erwan Fouéré appointed for new Head of the EC Delegation and EU Special Representative.
14 February 2005
- The Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia handed over the replies to the EC questionnaire to the Commission.
1 October 2004
- The President of the European Commission, Mr Romano Prodi, paid an official visit to Skopje in order to hand over the Commission's Questionnaire to the Government necessary for the Commission to prepare an Opinion on the country's membership application.
14 September 2004
- The Stabilisation and Association Council between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the EC, established after the Stabilisation and Association Agreement entered into force, held its first meeting in Brussels.
1 September 2004
- Arrival of the new EU's Special Representative, Mr Michael Sahlin.
1 April 2004
- The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Union and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, signed on 9 April 2001, enters into force, taking the country another step forward on the road to European integration. This is the first the Stabilisation and Association Agreement to enter into force.
30 March 2004
- The European Commission has approved the first ever European Partnerships for the Western Balkans which are inspired by the Accession Partnerships that have helped prepare countries for eventual membership in the past. The partnerships are based on the third Annual Reports on these countries, also published on 30 March.
22 March 2004
- The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia submitted an application for EU membership and the Commission was tasked by the European Council to prepare an Opinion on this application.
1 February 2004
- Arrival of the new EU’s Special Representative, Mr. Soren Jessen-Petersen.
- Thessaloniki Summit is considered to be a historic one as for the first time in the history of the European Union, a mini-summit called ‘EU – Western Balkans Summit’ was held in the framework of the summit. In this way the European Union is sending a positive political signal for the future European perspective of the Western Balkans.
31 March 2003
- EU takes over the international military presence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from NATO.
1 November 2002
- Arrival of the new EU’s Special Representative Mr. Alexis Brouhns.
9 October 2002
- Mr. Donato Chiarini became the new Head of EC Delegation in the country.
29 October 2001
- Arrival of the new EU’s Special Representative Mr. Alain Le Roy.
28 June 2001
- Arrival of EU’s Special Representative Mr. François Leotard.
1 June 2001
- Under the Co-operation Agreement, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia benefits from asymmetric trade preferences with the EU.
9 April 2001
- Following the successful conclusion of the negotiations at the Zagreb Summit of 24 November 2000, a Stabilisation and Association Agreement is signed in Luxembourg. An Interim Agreement is also signed on the same day; with the IA the Parties allow trade and trade-related matters of the SAA to enter into force.
- The European Council meeting at Santa Maria de Feira (Portugal) confirms that its objective remains the fullest possible integration of the countries of the region into the political and economic mainstream of Europe, and affirms that "all the countries concerned are potential candidates for EU membership".
- Upgrading of the EC Representation in Skopje to a permanent Delegation of the European Commission. Start of negotiations between the EU and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to conclude a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
- The EU proposes a new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of south-eastern Europe. On 16 June 1999, the conclusion of a feasibility study to open negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is positive.
- Co-operation agreement and Agreement in the field of Transport enter into force. Opening of the Office of the Resident Envoy in Skopje.
- The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia becomes eligible for funding under the EU Phare programme.