BRUSSELS -- Montenegro and Serbia are taking one step closer to EU membership by opening two new areas of negotiation, or chapters.
On June 20, Montenegro will open chapter 1 on the free movement of goods and chapter 22 on regional policy, bringing the number of opened areas of negotiation to 28 out of 33.
Podgorica will also close chapter 30 on external relations, bringing the number of closed chapters to three.
Montenegro, which earlier this month officially joined NATO, is the country in the Western Balkans that currently is closest to joining the EU.
Serbia, which has so far closed two chapters, will open two other chapters on June 20 -- on a customs union and intellectual property law -- to bring the number of opened chapters to 10.
Montenegro and Serbia are required to align their national regulations with those of the EU before all the chapters are officially closed, paving the way for their eventual accession to the bloc.
The European Commission announced in 2014 that no new EU enlargement is expected by the end of 2019, but several countries in the Western Balkans are vying to join the bloc in the next decade.