12 December 2005 -- France today expressed doubts about whether the European Union should grant Macedonia the status of candidate member this week.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the EU is planning a debate on the issue of future expansion in the middle of 2006, and that Macedonia's application should wait until after that.
He argued the 25-nation bloc, which expanded by 10 nations in May 2004, can barely cope under its current operating rules, and needs more time before it invites new candidate members.
A summit of EU leaders starting on 15 December is set to decide whether Macedonia is ready to start entry talks. But France and others are hesitant amid signs of growing opposition to further expansion among Western European members at a time when the EU is divided over the structure of its finances.
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