No agreement among EU leaders on launching membership talks

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BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders have broken off talks without agreement on whether to launch membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, despite warnings that turning them away would tarnish the EU's reputation and risks inflaming the volatile Balkans region.

The two countries were expecting to receive a green light to begin negotiations on joining Europe's rich club, a process which could take several years. The European Commission, which supervises entry talks, insists that both have met all the criteria. The leaders had promised a decision on their futures by the end of October but their talks broke up early Friday.

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

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