The European Union will start membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, according to a draft decision which is expected to be unanimously adopted by the bloc’s 27 member states by the end of the week.

If approved, the agreement would end two years of delays and signal new momentum for six Western Balkan countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia - seeking to join the EU, Reuters reported.

According to reports, France and the Netherlands have eased their objections over the past several weeks, and the plans to allow talks to start have gained momentum despite the outbreak of coronavirus infections across the continent.

I do not think what is happening (with coronavirus) is going to alter the decision of the member states”, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell told reports several days ago.

Greece’s approval was still pending, but diplomatic sources said that Athens had given its approval after the latest draft included stronger language on protecting Greek and other national minorities in Albania.

According to media reports, the decision does not include dates for the actual beginning of talks with North Macedonia and Albania.