BRUSSELS – For the second year in a row, the European Commission called on the EU to let Albania and North Macedonia begin membership talks due to the fact it would make both the region and the European Union itself more stable, writes Politico.
“Albania and North Macedonia have shown a strong determination to advance on the EU path and achieved results that are concrete and must be irreversible,” said the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
Nevertheless, sceptics led by France, argue that the EU should not contemplate expanding until it has reformed itself more efficiently. In addition, critics have also highlighted the corruption, organised crime and poverty that plague Balkan countries following the wars of the 1990s are raising fears that enlargement will import more of these problems into the EU, it is stated in Politico.
Ahead of the meeting of the EU’s General Affairs Council on June 18, Politico writes that this meeting could end in the same way as previous one — with a postponement, at least for a month or two, if not longer.
France’s former Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau boasted during the European Parliament election campaign of scuppering the start of the membership talks, repeating her hard-line stance last week on Twitter.
In addition, one EU diplomat involved in the enlargement process said after seeing her tweet he started to think that is not going to change.
Opposite to France, Germany has taken a leading role in the Balkans, backing EU membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia. But, according to Politico, even Berlin may struggle to reach a clear position by the time of the June 18 meeting.
The Commission delayed the publication of its Enlargement Package for this year until the European elections have been finished. This further means the Bundestag, which has to give its say on any enlargement decision, has little time to deliberate and give its opinion before the meeting.
“If enlargement talks eventually get the green light, it may not be for both countries,” Politico writes.
If the June gathering cannot reach a decision, diplomats say the issue could end up on the agenda of a summit of EU leaders later in the month or at another meeting of ministers in July, Politico concludes.