During a meeting with Croatian Prime minister Andrej Plenković in Paris on Tuesday (7 January), French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to soften his tough stance on enlargement, saying he was open to changing the methodology under which EU accession is determined. For his part, Plenković urged Macron to unblock accession negotiations as soon as possible.
The French president also acknowledged the angry reactions from eastern member states following his refusal in October 2019, backed by the Netherlands and Germany, to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania.
In the form of a ‘non-paper’, “France has proposed a new method for the enlargement process so that it is not just a bureaucratic process but a truly political path forward, which can be accelerated and reversed, and which contains conditions and also, concrete benefits for candidate countries,” the president said, expressing hope that the EU Commission would make a similar proposal soon.
The French president also officially supported Croatia’s plan for a major enlargement summit next May, saying that that “France is determined to make the Zagreb Summit a success for Europe”.
France wants a successful Zagreb summit
Croatian PM Plenković kicked off his country’s Council Presidency with his Paris visit. While Plenković urged French President Emmanuel Macron to unblock accession negotiations as soon as possible, France’s president also expects Croatia to play a key role in post-Brexit negotiations, the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF), as well as in the organisation of the Future of Europe conference, which will be held in Zagreb.