European leaders could not agree on opening EU accession talks with Macedonia yesterday. Despite reports that politicians such as Donald Tusk and even Angela Merkel are pushing for the accession date, France remained firm in its opposition and the EUCO dinner ended without mention of enlargement in the conclusions.
Seems that the best Macedonia can hope for is a French approval of revisiting the issue again in six months, depending on whether French demands for substantial reforms and institutional deepening of the EU are accepted. This would also require implementing additional reforms on the part of Macedonia, although what exactly is not clear, Deutsche Welle reported.
The Zaev Government promised a June accession date, and following its failure at the June EUCO summit, said that they now have written guarantees for a date in October. According to reports from Brussels, Macedonia was lumped together with Albania, and countries such as Germany and Italy demanded that the two remain in a group, making it all but impossible for Macedonia to get a date for accession talks alone. France opposes both countries, while the Netherlands said they would block Albania, but were open to Macedonia moving forward alone.
Politico reported that at one point, following the early conclusion of talks on Brexit, Merkel, Macron and the leaders of Denmark and the Netherlands sat together to prepare conclusions on enlargement, but then, as the hours went by, the talks moved toward Syria, without resulting in enlargement breakthrough.