The European Commission welcomes the Council’s decision to start accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. “The EU delivers on its promise”, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. On the one hand, the two countries “did what was asked of them and have continued making progress in the reforms needed”; on the other hand, “this decision is in the European Union’s geostrategic interest”. According to Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhely, “the start of accession talks sends a loud and clear message to the Western Balkans as a whole” that of a “European perspective for the region: their future is in the EU”. For its part, the Commission – Várhelyi announced – “will move quickly and propose soon the draft negotiating frameworks with the two countries”, thereby confirming the “geostrategic importance of the Western Balkans” and that “Europe is willing and able to take geopolitical decisions even in these trying times of pandemic”.