French President Emmanuel Macron, who takes over the rotating Presidency of the European Council, announced that he will convene a summit on the Western Balkan countries in June. This indicates that there is little hope that Macedonia will be allowed to open EU accession talks in December, as the Zaev regime had hoped.

Bulgaria seems determined to continue to veto Macedonia at least for months to come, even with a new, more moderate Government expected to take over. The next European Council is scheduled on December 14th, and it seems clear that the it will be another missed opportunity for Macedonia. In his remarks, Macron spoke about the special responsibility the EU has toward the Balkans, but also referred to a time frame of “decades”.

I believe that the political and economic engagement toward the Western Balkans is a true question from the agenda of European sovereignty, because peace in Europe is not possible for the next 50 years if we leave the Balkans in the situation it is today. So, let’s clarify their Europеan perspective, re-invest in this region and in its unity and to have a true, joint ambition for this region in the decades that come, Macron said.

France takes over the six months long Presidency of the European Council with the start of 2022, but it also has presidential elections scheduled in April. Given how unpopular further EU enlargement has been in that country, it’s unlikely that Macron will be willing to stake too much of his credibility in order to bring Macedonia and Albania closer to full EU membership.