MEPs write to Croatian Presidency about EU accession blockage for North Macedonia and Albania

TO: Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia; Gordan Grlić Radman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia; Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy;Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations

Concerns: Impact on LGBTI rights of EU’s blockage of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania 

Brussels, 19 December 2019

Honourable Ministers,

Honourable Commissioners,

16 years ago in Thessaloniki, the EU clearly stated that “the future of the Balkans is in the European Union”. The accession process and the prospects it offered for the Western Balkans were to serve as the anchor for reforms through a shared agenda, and commitment to its implementation from all sides, all the way to their future accession, in the same way as in Central and Eastern Europe.

These reforms have brought significant and unprecedented changes when it comes to human rights, including the rights of LGBTI people, across the region. North Macedonia now explicitly includes sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination and hate crime legislation. This year Albania hosted the ERA LGBTI Conference which gathered over 200 human rights defenders in Tirana this November, followed by the very first lesbian* march. Since starting the accession process Albania has adopted a number of laws protecting LGBTI people from discrimination in employment and education, and hate crime-laws inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.

These inspiring developments are still young and threatened by the decision of the European Council to not open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, as the process has been fundamental in improving the legal rights and social acceptance of LGBTI people. With no clear support from the EU and by stopping the EU integration process, the LGBTI community and LGBTI organisations and groups in the Western Balkans are once again at risk of increased marginalisation and of being left behind.

We, Members of the European Parliament who stand firm in our commitment to the accession of the region and the protection of LGBTI rights internationally, call on the European Council and EU Member States to recognise the wide-spread consequences of this situation, to do everything in their power to ensure that the start of accession talks is unblocked and to reiterate the European perspective of all Western Balkan countries. If the EU truly believes in protecting the human rights of all people, including those who are LGBTI, across Europe and the world, it must include the unblocking of accession talks as its top priority for the region.


Terry Reintke MEP, Co-Chair of the LGBTI Intergroup

Sophie in’t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup

Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup

Fabio Massimo Castaldo MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup

Maria Walsh MEP

Seb Dance MEP

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield MEP

Dimitrios Papadimoulis MEP

Delara Burkhardt MEP

Brando Benifei MEP

Francisco Guerreiro MEP

Dietmar Köster MEP

Rosa D’Amato MEP

Sheila Ritchie MEP

Petras Austrevicius MEP

Petra de Sutter MEP

Evelyn Regner MEP

Radka Maxová MEP

Alex Agius Saliba MEP

Irena Joveva MEP

Andreas Schieder MEP

Milan Brglez MEP

Alexandra Louise Phillips MEP

Kim van Sparrentak MEP

Tineke Strik MEP

Monika Vana MEP

Hilde Vautmans MEP

Barbara Gibson MEP

Olivier Chastel MEP

Jackie Jones MEP

Rasmus Andresen MEP

Erik Marquardt MEP

Julie Ward MEP Karin Karlsbro MEP