France to pause EU enlargement
France blocked a European push to launch membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania yesterday, saying it could not approve negotiations until Brussels reformed the “endless soap opera” of admitting new members.
The European Union’s enlargement commissioner blasted Paris over the membership veto, saying it was “not a moment of glory for Europe” and apologised to the Balkan states.
France’s European Affairs Minister Amélie de Montchalin said Paris would stick to its hardline position until a deep reform of EU membership rules, which range from economic policy to human rights and the rule of law.
“The first thing we need to talk about is how Europe must reform the way it does enlargement and negotiations,” de Montchalin said, calling the accession process “an endless soap opera”.
The current method, which sees the EU open “chapters” in negotiations without being able to close them again if candidate states backslide, “does not obtain the profound changes that are needed from these countries,” the diplomat noted.
The Finnish EU presidency had drafted conclusions that would give the green light to start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania.