From: Alice Taylor
Macron Calls for EU to Offer ‘Sincere’ Prospects to EU Hopefuls

French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU must review its relationship with the Western Balkans and offer “sincere” prospects of joining the bloc.

His comments were made on Wednesday to the European Parliament as France holds the rotating six-month European Council presidency until June.

Macron has not previously been enthusiastic about welcoming new members into the bloc, especially those from the Western Balkans. Furthermore, with presidential elections looming, he is unlikely to want to rock the boat in a country where only 30% of the population support enlargement.

While the Commission and most EU members say Albania and North Macedonia have fulfilled the conditions to start accession negotiations, the process is stalled due to a veto of the latter by Bulgaria, which seems unlikely to shift any time soon.

Macron also said that the EU must work on a new stability and security deal to then put to Russia. Highlighting the “destabilisation efforts” in Europe at the moment, Macron said, “the security of our continent is indivisible”. While referring to Russia, he added it is imperative that Europe defines its own security standards.

“We must bring ourselves to a position to make sure they can be respected,” he said.

Europe currently fears Moscow will invade the Ukraine as Russia has amassed some 100,000 troops along the border separating the two countries. Talks have been ongoing between Russia, the US, and the EU, but no fruitful outcome has so far emerged.