As Britain battles to leave the EU, others struggle to join

As Britain battles to leave the EU, others struggle to join
European Council President Donald Tusk, right, greets North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev prior to a meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)

BRUSSELS (AP) — As Britain battles to leave the European Union, two countries from the Balkans were struggling to be allowed in, despite warnings that turning them away would tarnish the EU’s reputation and could risk inflaming the volatile region.

Albania and North Macedonia were expecting this week to receive a green-light to begin negotiations on joining Europe’s rich club. The European Commission, which supervises entry talks, insists that both have met all the criteria. EU leaders had promised a decision on their futures by the end of October.

But French President Emmanuel Macron is refusing to allow any new countries into the 28-nation bloc until its enlargement procedures have been improved. The Netherlands opposes Albania’s candidacy and disputes the commission’s assessment.