On 17 July the first explanatory meeting on the resources, agriculture and cohesion cluster (Cluster 5) was held. Cluster 5 covers agriculture and rural development, food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy, fisheries, regional policy and coordination of structural instruments as well as financial and budgetary provisions. The first two days of meetings focused on agriculture, rural development and fisheries, followed by food safety and budgetary provisions. Bilateral screening meetings on Cluster 1, 2 and 3 and 4 have been finalised.
The analytical examination of the body of EU laws (acquis), the so-called screening, enables candidate countries to familiarise themselves with the EU laws and standards and the obligations they entail. It also allows to examine the countries’ levels of preparedness and plans to further alignment, and thus to obtain preliminary indications of the issues that will most likely come up in the negotiations. Screening is the first step in the accession negotiation process. The screening process is structured along six thematic clusters. These clusters encompass the relevant acquis chapters along broad themes related to good governance, internal market, economic competitiveness and connectivity.
For Albania and North Macedonia it started already on 19 July 2022, immediately after the Intergovernmental Conferences, and resumed in September with Cluster 1 – Fundamentals, October with Cluster 2 – Internal Market, February with Cluster 3 – competitiveness and inclusive growth and June with Cluster 4 – the Green agenda and sustainable connectivity.
The Screening exercise consists of two phases:
- the explanatory session where the Commission departments explain chapter by chapter the EU acquis.
- the bilateral session where each candidate country is invited to present where it stands, by chapter, in its preparations to adopt and implement the acquis.
The European Commission will evaluate and report to the Council on the degree of preparedness of a candidate country on a given cluster, on the candidate country’s plans for future preparations and on preliminary indications of the issues that will most likely come up in the negotiations.
The Council will decide, by unanimity, whether to define opening benchmarks on each negotiating cluster, on the basis of the proposal from the Commission in the screening report.