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Opinion
Andreas Kluth

The EU Can’t Widen and Deepen at the Same Time

Starting accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania is better than spurning them. But enlargement presents a problem we should talk about honestly.

Do these really belong together?

Do these really belong together?

Photographer: Robert Atanasovski/AFP via Getty Images

Many things divide the 27 member states of the European Union these days, but one controversy in particular sums up the bloc’s fundamental dilemma. It's over “enlargement,” and specifically whether to formally start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. Seething below the surface is the question of whether the EU can, in Eurocrat jargon, keep “widening” and “deepening” at the same time.

Put differently, if the EU keeps admitting new members, whether they’re ready or not, won’t it just become ungovernable and drift apart?