İrem UZUN-TDO- France considers it is too early to open talks with Balkan countries on accession to the European Union, a French presidency official said on Tuesday.Paris says the EU faces too many challenges to let in two more states from the Balkans, a region still scarred by wars fought in the 1990s and struggling with crime and corruption.
The six Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, all of which apart from Albania emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia, are considered future EU members. European ministers, making a third attempt since June 2018 to approve membership talks for the Balkan hopefuls, are set to discuss in Luxembourg opening a path for Skopje and Tirana, with broad EU support and backing from the United States. However, Amelie de Montchalin, France's secretary of state for European Affairs, said there could be no way forward until what French President Emmanuel Macron in July called "deep reform" of EU membership rules."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 process "an endless soap opera".
EU members have different positions on the enlargement. While the Netherlands supports French wariness of membership talks for Albania, which is already a member of the US-led NATO alliance, many other countries, led by Italy, are deeply frustrated by the French position.Germany has proposed a compromise by starting EU membership talks with North Macedonia before the end of this year and agreeing in principle to launch the process for Albania, but without setting a date before Tirana meets more conditions.