French President Emmanuel Macron indicated that he might lift his veto for the opening of EU accession talks with Macedonia and Albania. France blocked the two countries in October, and Macron now says that he is satisfied with the changes to the EU enlargement methodology, but also that new candidates may have to wait a decade or a decade and half before joining.
– The European Commission did a remarkable job in coming up with its proposal, Macron said during the Munich security conference, indicating that the French objections have been implemented in the next text. “We must see what the Commission will say on the state of the advances we expect to take place in Albania and ‘North’ Macedonia. If the results are positive and trust is established we should be in a position to open, afterward, negotiations, he said.
A positive report from the European Commission is expected soon. Meanwhile, France has objected to decoupling Macedonia from Albania, which faces significantly more opposition, from countries like Holland, meaning that the French veto is not the only obstacle on the way.
Macron warned the Balkan countries that they will face a long process before they can join the EU. He spoke out against unnamed EU countries who publicly call for the opening of accession talks but privately warn that the candidates will not be able to meet EU standards for a very long time.
– I prefer realpolitik here. To anchor the Balkans into the EU we have to invest there… instead of saying we are opening negotiations, with a lot of hypocrisy because all those who say we need to open negotiations with Albania and “North” Macedonia then say, “be careful, they’re not suitable for membership for another 10 or 15 years – we’re not reasonable”, Macron said. The French President also repeated his position that the EU has enough difficulties operating with the members its has now, and that it would become even less functional if it adds new member states.