The European Union will make Serbia a candidate for membership, another step in the bloc's outreach to the states of the former Yugoslavia, draft conclusions of a summit of EU leaders showed on Thursday.

The European Council granted candidate status to Serbia, EU leaders were planning to say in their final statement after the Brussels summit, according to a text seen by Reuters.

The decision launches a potentially lengthy process intended to consign the western Balkans' bloody recent history to the past and promote better government by Belgrade.

(Reporting By Sebastian Moffett and Justyna Pawlak)