The European Commission will propose changes to the system for letting new countries into the European Union to give existing members more say, in a bid to mollify France which has vetoed expansion of the bloc to six countries in the Balkans.
In October, President Emmanuel Macron halted the process of admitting Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and North Macedonia.
The Commission hopes to persuade France to lift its objections before a Zagreb summit with the Balkan states in May.
Macron has become the most outspoken figure among European politicians who say the last big expansion, when Romania and Bulgaria joined in 2007, was too hasty, and that caution is needed in adding more members from a region beset by corruption and crime.
The changes the Commission is expected to unveil on Wednesday would give existing members the power to pause the process of admitting new countries, or even force countries to restart entry talks in some policy areas from the beginning.
More summits would be held in the Balkan region to give politicians more say over the process.
“Macron wants to be seen as the kingmaker and we can accommodate that, because the EU’s credibility is at stake,” said a senior EU official involved in the reform.
“This is political and it’s personal, so let’s take out the drama.”