France will reportedly oppose the launch of the EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia at the upcoming EU Council meeting, according to anonymous diplomatic sources of Reuters, quoted by local media. France has already communicated that it will block the opening of the talks to its EU peers. France’s resistance seems to be mostly related to its opinion that the EU needs to tackle some internal issues through broad reform agenda before it goes for another enlargement round. Still, a French official was reported to have said that Albania and North Macedonia will be required to complete additional reforms, which should be reassessed in 2020.
We note that even if only one EU member state opposes the start of the talks with the two Western Balkan states, it will be sufficient to postpone the EU integration process again. Recently, the Netherlands also confirmed that it will rather vote against the talks with Albania as it was not convinced that Albania has made significant advance in required reforms. Media sources also confirmed that Denmark is the third country firmly opposing to Albania’s EU prospects.