AmCham Macedonia 1/2019 - Page 13

harmonised with EU rules and regulations in areas such as rights of establishment of companies, provision of services, liberalisation of payments and movement of capital. This makes it easier for Macedonian companies to register subsidiaries and provide services in the EU. It also facilitates the acquirement of real estate in the EU, as well as the opening of bank accounts in EU Member States, both for citizens and companies. Contrary to the SAA, the accession negotiations do not have a legally binding character. The speed with which they can be concluded depends on the reforms pace of the country itself. For most chapters, there will be so called opening and closing benchmarks for every area (or ‘chapter’) of the EU legislative framework (the so called “acquis communautaire”). Opening benchmarks will usually take the form of legislation and/or strategies and action plans having to be in place for a certain chapter. Closing benchmarks will likely take the form of a ‘track record’, showing that the country is able to implement the transposed EU legislation. To illustrate this, let’s take the example of free movement of goods, one of the cornerstones of the EU’s internal market. First, legislation in this area will have to be aligned with EU rules and regulations. Then, to close this chapter, the authorities of North Macedonia will have to prove to be able to implement this legislation. For this, the local institutions will have to show to be up to the task of adopting EU product standards and of market surveillance. This in turn will facilitate exports of locally produced goods to the EU. Similar processes will take place in other important trade related areas of EU legislation, such as customs, energy, transport and financial services. The main challenges in this process for local and foreign companies active in the country relate to the requirement to produce high quality goods, complying with the relevant product safety, health and environmental standards, while remaining competitive on the EU and domestic market. The degree to which the local economy is already integrated into the EU in terms of exports in this respect sends a hopeful signal for the future. EMERGING MACEDONIA 13