Enlargement of the European Union is, almost imperceptibly, moving forward once more. EU foreign ministers are expected next week to forward Albania’s membership application to the European Commission for an opinion. This is a necessary technical step on the path to entry - small, but important.
The Commission is already preparing opinions on the applications of Iceland and Montenegro. The opinions will take quite some time to deliver - longer for Albania and Montenegro than for Iceland - but the machinery is now in motion.
There are signs of progress elsewhere, too. For a long time Serbia’s efforts to draw closer to the EU have been held back by the refusal of the Netherlands to permit implementation of Serbia’s EU stabilisation and association agreement. The Dutch insist that Serge Brammertz, the chief United Nations war crimes prosecutor, must first of all declare that Serbia is fully complying with its efforts to capture war crimes suspects - principally, Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander.
Brammertz is due to hand his latest report to the UN Security Council in early December, and the Serbian government appears confident that it will be positive. That would remove the Dutch veto and allow Serbia to make a formal application for EU membership.