The European Union is set to start accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, according to a draft decision made by ministers of the member states seen by Exit News.
The decision is expected to be finalized and formally adopted this week by the General Affairs Council, which is made up of the European affairs ministers from all member states. EU and Balkan leaders will then hold a summit in Zagreb in May where the decision is expected to be finalized.
Exit News reported last week that the Croatian Presidency of the EU proposed the opening of accession talks with both Balkan countries.
France and the Netherlands were the most skeptical counties toward the opening of talks, citing the countries’ track records on democracy and fighting corruption. They have however eased their stance, with Macron stating last month that talks could start if the European Commission presented a positive report.
In March 2020, the EC again recommended the opening of talks.
Reuters also reports that Greece initially hesitated to agree with the draft decision for the opening of talks, but then approved it after stronger language requiring protection of Greek national minority in Albania was included.