EU leaders agree to start membership talks with Macedonia, Albania by end of 2019

EU leaders have agreed to open membership talks with Macedonia and Albania by the end of 2019, if both Balkan aspirants show enough progress in judicial and anti-corruption reforms. The leaders said in a summit statement on Friday that they endorsed an agreement on Tuesday among the bloc’s ministers to review Albania and Macedonia’s progress in June 2019 and open talks at a conference by the end of next year. There was no debate on the issue by leaders at their two-day summit in Brussels, Reuters said. The statement reflects a compromise among EU governments to keep EU membership hopes of the Western Balkan countries alive and seek further reforms.