“Both countries, they passed their exams, I can’t say this about our member states,” Tusk said.
The European Commission has said both countries have done enough to at least begin talks, but Macron now says this should not happen until the whole accession process has been reformed, arguing that it does not work properly.
But diplomats suspect the French are playing tough for domestic political reasons linked to immigration, and there is frustration that Macron appears to be trying to move the goalposts.
“These countries deserve it, they fulfil the criteria, the momentum is right,” said one diplomatic source.
“It’s not fair to change the rules of the game in the middle of the game.”
Another said “there’s no logic to it. It’s incoherent – an excuse.”
After the earlier failure in Luxembourg another diplomat accused France of “repeating the same stupid arguments again and again”, warning Paris would bear “responsibility for the consequences of this”.
Politicians in North Macedonia and Albania have warned that their people’s patience with the EU is not unlimited and repeated rejections risk emboldening nationalist and pro-Russian forces.