The European Union will be able to start i membership interviews con theAlbania and Northern Macedonia, says a draft approved by the 27 member countries, a document viewed da Reuters Monday and which should be finalized this week.
If approved, the agreement will appear to remedy the two-year delay and would signal new impetus for all six Western Balkan countries - Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and North Macedonia - seeking to join the EU .
North Macedonia and Albania had seen their hopes broken last year, when France and the Netherlands expressed skepticism about the state of democracy and the fight against corruption, fearing the entry of new members at a time when cohesion the EU had already been damaged by Britain's exit from the EU.
Although Paris and The Hague raised their objections last month, the plan to start negotiations has not stopped despite the crisis caused by the coronavirus, with Brussels determined to show its determination to bring the Balkans into the EU sheepfold .
"I don't think what's happening (with the coronavirus) will change the decision of the member states", European Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters.
Borrell also said he telephoned Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to reassure him of EU support after Vucic praised China for his help in the fight against coronavirus in Serbia, questioning European solidarity.
Greece was not present during the making of this decision, which requires the unanimity of all EU members. But diplomatic sources say that Athens has given its approval to the latest draft as it includes in clear language the protection of minorities in Albania, including the Greek one.
If no country opposes it, the decision should be formally adopted by the EU ministers of the 27 EU members midweek - in writing this time, since meetings have been suspended due to the risks of the coronavirus - the sources added.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who had blocked talks with Skopje and Tirana in October, said in February that he was prepared to allow the accession talks to start if the European Commission provided further reassurances, also changing the way of admission of new members.
Brussels had responded by adopting a reform of the enlargement process presented in February, a reform which France has welcomed.
EU governments, in addition to the European Commission, have gone further in this process, asking for guarantees so that aspirants achieve the objectives in economic, judicial and other reforms, with the possibility of stopping negotiations if the Balkan governments do not adopt the necessary measures.
Unless it is postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirusEU and Balkan leaders are expected to hold a summit in Zagreb in May.