The European Union Foreign Ministers could not unanimously agree on the start of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.
However, at the press conference after the meeting, both the Finnish Minister for European Affairs and the EU Enlargement Commissioner expressed their optimism that the green light would be given at the EU leaders' summit in Brussels from October 17-18.
“We very much regret that the Member States could not make a decision on the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. This is not a moment of glory for Europe - it’s the third time in 16 months that we are discussing this important issue,” said Hahn.
Hahn added that an "overwhelming majority" of EU members supported the Commission's recommendation that talks begin, but that they could not yet reach the required unanimous decision.
“There are many reasons to remain optimistic. I hope so much that the European Union Council will make a positive decision on enlargement in relation to both countries,” said the Finnish Foreign Minister.
During today's discussions it was proposed to divide decision-making for Albania and North Macedonia, but as stated at the press conference, this was opposed by most member states.
So far, 25 European Union countries support the start of accession talks with the two Western Balkan countries, while France and another country, which the Finnish Minister for European Affairs declined to disclose, are opposed.
“Leaders must show strategic responsibility and keep the promise made to both countries,” Commissioner Hahn said. He added that both Albania and North Macedonia have implemented extremely difficult reforms.
Now the ball is in the court of the European Union leaders with intense talks expected between Germany and France. Ahead of a summit of leaders in Brussels later this week, French-German talks have already begun.
Referring to the Commissioner Hahn's words, there is still room for hope for both countries.