European Western Balkans

Macron says EU accession of WB must continue, proposes European Political Community

Emmanuel Macron; Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France

STRASBOURG – President of France Emmanuel Macron said in yesterday’s speech that the EU accession process of the Western Balkan countries must continue and that “their vocation is clear”. He also proposed an idea of a European Political Community in the context of the EU membership candidacy of Ukraine.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Conference on the Future of Europe in the European Parliament, Macron reflected on Ukraine’s candidacy, saying that it was unrealistic that the process of its accession would last years, even decades.

“Even if we were to give it (Ukraine) a status of candidate country tomorrow… we all know only too well that the process of accession would take several years – in truth, it would probably take several decades… Unless we decide to lower the standards for accession and rethink the unity of our Europe and also, partially, the principles we all hold. Let us be clear here: the European Union, given its level of integration and ambition, cannot, in short term, be the only way in which the European continent can be structured”, President of France said.

He then mentioned that there are several countries, “for example in the Western Balkans”, who are engaged in the accession process, which needs to continue.

“Their vocation is clear”, Macron said.

Nevertheless, he added that, given the new geopolitical context, there is a need to ensure that Europe it is unified and stable, “without making the intimacy within the EU more fragile”.

“I think I would now qualify what I am talking about as a European Political Community. This new organization would allow democratic European nations that adhere to our values to find a new space for political cooperation, for security, for energy cooperation, transport cooperation, to invest in infrastructure where people would circulate, particularly young people. Joining wouldn’t mean that in the future you would not be able to join the EU and it also would not be limited to those who had left the EU”, Macron said.

The President of France also reiterated his longstanding call for a “multi-speed” European integration and said that it is time to reform the Treaties.

“We are worried about being more ambitious, and it is always the same thing, from Euro to Schengen. And we are wrong on that. This grouping does not exclude anyone, but what it does is that it enables those who want to move faster to bring the others with them… rather than making riskier and holding back”, Macron said.

He added that differentiation open to all members is a condition for the EU to be ambitious and effective.

In the wake of Macron’s speech, EU Member States Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Sweden published a non-paper on the outcome of and follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe, stressing that they do not support “unconsidered and premature attempts to launch a process towards Treaty change”.

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