The French president Emmanuel Macron said Saturday February 15 that will allow the Northern Macedonia andAlbania di to start negotiations con theEuropean Union if the Commission should give a positive opinion next month.
Macron 's comments to Munich security conference they seem to end the French veto on the path of the two Balkan countries towards EU membership and reassure other European leaders that France will support EU enlargement to new members.
"We are waiting for the Commission's report which will be available in March and if the results are positive, then we will be able to open the debate", Macron said at the conference.
Macron had refused to approve the start of the accession negotiations at an October summit, stating that the admission process required a change in the methodologies for the entry of new members.
Concerned by the Chinese and Russian influence in the six states aspiring to join the blockade - Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and North Macedonia, Germany and the European Commission had defined the blockade imposed by Macron on the launch of the negotiations.
This month, the Commission proposed new methodologies on the accession process, along the lines of a French proposal presented in November, giving EU governments more say.
Macron's choice lays the foundations for the broad consensus of the 27 EU countries before the EU-Balkans summit to be held in Zagreb next May. Denmark and the Netherlands, which supported Macron's position last year, are expected to become less rigid, EU diplomats told Reuters.
France and its allies are concerned about the EU's ability to integrate a region marked by ethnic wars in the 90s and grappling with crime and corruption, warning not to repeat the 2007 mistake, which allowed entry hurried Romania and Bulgaria. This time, the accession process will be longer, and after the start of the negotiations it will take years for real membership.
Macron also warned that the so-called EU enlargement was not a panacea for the many difficulties the EU has in speaking with one voice. Furthermore, a larger number of members also implies the need for a larger common EU budget, which the northern EU members would have rejected.
“It doesn't work for 27 EU members, so we think it will work better when we are 32 or 33? We need to be consistent"Said Macron.
Italy also supported Albania at the October summit
While Denmark and the Netherlands had been in favor of the entry of North Macedonia alone, Italy had a diametrically opposite line, mainly interested in the entry of Albania, due to the close commercial relations, and not only, between Rome and Tirana .
The countries of the Visegrad group (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) were also in favor of entering the Balkans, affected by an expansion of the single market and the eastern borders of the EU. Germany too, which had voted in favor of the start of negotiations with a vote in Parliament.
What Albanian citizens of Europe think
For some years, once a year, the European Union delegation in Albania has conducted a survey that analyzes the perception of Albanians about Europe and the major current issues.
Support for Albania's accession to the EU
97% of Albanian citizens are in favor of Albania's membership of the European Union. A trend that has even improved compared to the previous survey (+4 percent since 2018). This is one of the key results of the annual perception survey of the EU in Albania
The full report can be found on the EU Delegation page pdf format