The European Commission (EC) has recommended an unconditional start of negotiations with the country, but everything depends on the European Council’s decision, the EU’s Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, explained at a press-conference on Wednesday, presenting the 2019 Progress Report on the Western Balkan countries. “On the basis of a strict and fair assessment, this year, for the second time, the Commission recommends opening of negotiations with Albania and with North Macedonia. This is a recommendation based on a solid assessment as you will be able to see from the Reports. North Macedonia and Albania have done their part of the work and now it is the European Union’s turn to fulfil its part. Now, obviously, after our recommendation, the ball is in the Council’s court,” Mogherini said. Hahn, who’d previously presented the document before the EP, too, stated that both countries had made progress in nearly all spheres. Regarding Macedonia, he highlighted the Prespa Agreement, which he described as historic, the successful organisation of the presidential elections and the progress in the judiciary. According to him, the progress in the rule of law sphere will be the key criterion for the European Council when it comes to giving a date for negotiations. “Regarding reform implementation, I would like to mention the strengthening of the independence of the judiciary, the establishment of the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption and the public administration reform. Also, the presidential elections have been conducted in a free and fair way. Overall, the system of checks and balances has been restored, consolidating the rule of law and democracy in the country,” Hahn stated. In order for Macedonia to get a date for negotiations, there will have to be consensus from all 28 EU countries.