European Western Balkans

French fears of starting negotiations with Albania and N. Macedonia are misplaced

Emmanuel Macron and Zoran Zaev; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

SKOPJE – There is no reason for France to oppose opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, since the process will not be over soon, which makes it possible for the EU to reform itself in the meantime, wrote Zoran Nechev, Researcher at the Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis from Skopje.

Nechev, who is also a member of Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG), reminded on Twitter that the Lisbon Treaty was prepared at the time of the Big Bang Enlargement and the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.

French President Emmanuel Macron stated on several occasions that the EU first needs to deepen its forms of cooperation, and then accept new member states.

Nechev, however, emphasises that, according to the current pace of Serbia and Montenegro, the negotiation process will last more than a decade, which leaves sufficient time for EU reform.

Read also: Tusk, Juncker, von der Leyen and Sassoli: It is time to open accession negotiations

He also addressed the perceived fear of the difficulty to stop and reverse accession negotiations, explaining that the EU member states could introduce a qualified majority vote in order to execute the balance clause and reopen the chapters that are provisionally closed.

The balance clause enables the EU to slow down the accession process if the rule of law reforms are not satisfactory implemented.

In the end, Nechev once again points out that Macedonian achievement in reaching agreements with Greece and Bulgaria must be recognized, because the rest of the region, especially Serbia and Kosovo, will not be ready to reach a compromise without the progress on their EU paths as a reward.

Read also: The dangers of keeping Western Balkans in a limbo

The rules of the game are set out. When criteria are met by accession countries, according to the European Commission and EU member states, this needs to be recognised by the European Council. Otherwise, the process is dead in the water”, Nechev wrote.

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