Some may wish the EU would simply honour its earlier commitment to integrate the Balkans region, but the time for wishful thinking has long passed writes Timothy Less from Cambridge University.
Today, European leaders will almost certainly again reject the request by Albania and North Macedonia to open negotiations on EU membership. In doing so, they will confirm what has been clear for a long time — that the process of enlargement is over, and that the Balkans are not going to join the EU.
In truth, key states in the EU, most notably France, never really wanted the EU to enlarge to the east, which confers disproportionate benefits to Germany, thereby upsetting the balance of power between Paris and Berlin while weakening the cohesion of the EU as a whole.
From France’s point of view, that undermines the whole point of European integration, namely, to prevent war with Germany and provide a platform for amplifying French power.