France wants to slow down EU accession

In the conflict over the start of EU accession negotiations with further states Macron's vision of how the EU enlargement process should be reformed has become clear: formal talks should give way to step-by-step accession in individual areas after the candidates meet certain reform guidelines, and the process should be reversible. A necessary reform or an unfair change to the rules of the game?

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Libération (FR) /

Macron defying all dogma

Macron's attitude to the EU reminds Libération's Brussels correspondent Jean Quatremer of a great reformer of the past:

“Europe is a religion. As such it has its dogma and its priests. Whoever strays from its canon runs the risk of being accused of blasphemy - or even heresy - and excommunicated. ... [France] wants the accession negotiations to no longer take place 'chapter by chapter' but on the basis of thematic priorities, so as to allow the candidate to participate in sectoral policies as well as an ad-hoc funding, including the structural funds. This way it would be gradually integrated into the workings of the Union and its capacity to shoulder its obligations could be tested. ... Paris also wants the process to be reversible if a state doesn't fulfil its obligations. Macron will become the Luther of EU integration?”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Changing the rules now would be unfair

To discuss reforming the EU expansion process now is not a good idea, Der Tagesspiegel believes:

“The two EU accession candidates Albania and North Macedonia must be worried now that the start of their accession negotiations will be postponed until a consensus is reached within the EU on a reform of the expansion process. However, it would be unfair to Skopje and Tirana to change the rules now, in the middle of the game, so to speak. Those who want to prevent the two countries from drifting in the direction of Russia or China should advocate a quick start to the accession negotiations. There will still be time to talk about reforming the enlargement process afterwards.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

Berlin and Paris at odds again

Efimerida ton Syntakton comments on the differing strategies of Berlin and Paris regarding European expansion:

“After 1990, the reunified Germany wanted a fast-track expansion of Central and Eastern Europe - a region where Germany has traditionally played a strong role. France, by contrast, viewed eastward expansion as creating a disequilibrium. ... Regarding the composition of the Eurozone, it was a completely different story: Berlin wanted strict adherence to the Maastricht criteria, a position which would effectively exclude the countries of Southern Europe - Italy included. From the beginning Paris, on the other hand, wanted a political decision allowing the southern countries to be part of the Eurozone - a decision that required a flexible interpretation of Maastricht and the Stability Pact.”