Balkans’ countries and especially Albania and North Macedonia, candidats to become a State member of the European Union (EU) since 2005 never get to the negotiations level. It’s been about 14 years that both countries are considered as being « candidates for the European Union », and member states such as France, Netherland, and Danemark used their veto for the opening of negotiations.
Now the question is why ? As we know, the European Union is living such an institutional crisis, that the French Président, Emmanuel Macron remembered to justify the French position by saying « before integrate any new State member we have to know how to reform ourselves ». In fact, the European Union has become an administration more and more bureaucratic et doesn’t « talk to people » anymore. What’s interesting, is that North Macedonia changed its name in January 2019 after Greece reclamations, and reached all inclusion criteria. We are about forgetting, that opening negotiations doesn’t automatically mean, adhesion. Why France is slowed down ? The public opinion is pretty much unfavourable to Balkans’ integration in the European Union, however, we seem to forget that this is not the public opinion or any polls which have to be decisive to take decisions. This what criteria and réglementation are made for.
Italy, in turn, knows a lot of disagreement with France and underlines them by its strategical postions. It considers there is a « huge mistake » but also a missing « appointment with the History » which escaped to the European Union. By the way, Italy gets closer to the Balkans. This is a strategic zone where there are about 1000 Italian companies settled in the Albanian field. Economic exchanges between both countries represent about 34% of the Albanian exchanges.
The Italian interest in this Geographic Zone can be explained by the proximity to the Mediterranean sea, close to Turkey, making it strategically, and nowadays it takes more importance in the international arena. This zone also raises the interest of Russia and China. We have to remember that Albania has been under the Chinese influence for a while. This geographic location is considered as being a priority zone by the Italian President, Giuseppe Conte. He shows that it presented a risk to get back under the Russian or the Chinese influence, putting a danger of the geo-strategies that Italy would like to lead, or even become a reconciliation zone of Russia, Turkey or China in the European continent.
The integration of the Balkans stays a problem since 15 years which doesn’t seem to get resolved and make tensions between Albania, North Macedonia and Europe. De facto, both consider as being benched, or even not being taken seriously by their potential partners.