European Western Balkans

Franco-German disagreement putting a brake on EU enlargement?

Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel; Photo: Tanjug / AP /Michael Sohn

BRUSSELS – The incompatibilities between Paris and Berlin, which were always solved by compromises, are putting the brake on the EU’s future direction and one of the countries immediately affected by the falling-out is North Macedonia, wrote Judy Dempsey, non-resident Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe and editor in chief of Strategic Europe.

According to Dempsey, this is not a good time for countries in the Western Balkans, nor for the supports of „more Europe“.

She emphasised that there is little enthusiasm among several EU member states for a region like the Western Balkans, which is struggling to strengthen the rule of law, protect a media freedom and end trafficking in drugs, firearms and humans.

„Accession talks take years. But it’s the psychological impact of such talks that is important for these countries’ feeling of being anchored to the EU. And above all, it’s the issue of trust: EU leaders promised these countries membership back in 2003“, Dempsey said.

In her point of view, Macron’s antipathy to further enlargement means that he trying to generate a much-needed debate about Europe’s relation with its neighbours.

„That kind of debate has to be anchored in what kind of Europe the member states want“, she said, adding that the enlargement dispute is linked to this.

Dempsey thinks that Merkel is uninterested in how the EU should look in the short– or long-term.

„She has put Germany’s economic interests first. She has avoided any strategic discussion about Europe’s direction,“  Dempsey concluded.

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