Germany has proposed starting EU membership talks with North Macedonia before the end of this year and agreeing in principle to launch the process for Albania, but without setting an exact date prior to Tirana meeting more conditions, Reuters reports.

The plan, put forward to EU countries this week before ministers of the 28-strong bloc discuss it in mid-October, is a possible compromise for those in the EU trying to woo the Balkan countries closer but facing resistance from France, the Netherlands and Denmark to letting them in.

The EU was due to agree on talks with Albania and North Macedonia in 2018 and then again last June. But the decision was repeatedly delayed amid heated internal disputes as it also grapples with Brexit, the first-ever departure of a member.

More than a dozen EU states are pushing hard to open accession talks with the two countries from a region that sits on the bloc’s doorstep and is deeply scarred by the wars of the 1990s.

They warn of a creeping Russian, Chinese and Turkish presence in the region and, late on Thursday, received renewed support from top EU officials in Brussels.

“The European Union stands before a strategic choice,” said a joint letter by the new head of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, the outgoing chairman of EU leaders’ summits, Donald Tusk, and the incoming head of the bloc’s mighty executive European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. “We believe that now is the time to open accession talks with both countries.”