Negotiations on key chapters on Serbia’s European path could be opened as early as June.
The EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Johannes Hahn, on Wednesday confirmed that Serbia had made progress on Chapter 24, adding that if further progress is made on reforming the judiciary, Belgrade could open both chapters by mid-year. Chapters 23, on the judiciary and fundamental rights, and Chapter 24, on freedom and security, are deemed crucial for Serbia’s path to eventual EU membership.
But the start of EU accession negotiations with Serbia is interlinked to the progress made in normalising relations with Kosovo. “Serbia has made substantial progress on its path towards the European Union. The opening of the first chapters in December was a well-deserved recognition of the progress made in the last few months, particularly in normalising relations with Kosovo. There is still a lot of work ahead of Serbia” said the EP rapporteur David McAllister.
The European institutions call on Belgrade and Pristina to move forward with the full and timely implementation of agreements reached so far, noting that this is one of the conditions for Serbia’s accession to the EU.
In Plenary session, the EP adopted two Resolutions welcoming the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. On 21 January, this latter received the EP consent to the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association agreement, an important first formal step in Kosovo’s integration into Europe. The deal will form the backbone of strengthened political association and economic integration between the EU and Kosovo.
The future of an independent Kosovo lies in the European Union, but it needs to do more to fight corruption and organised crime and start delivering tangible results, also in the economy.
According to MEPs, the recognition of Kosovo by all member states of the EU will be helpful in normalising the relations between Pristina and Belgrade. Five EU member states have yet to formally recognise Kosovo, and if all EU member states were to do so, this would bring more stability to the region.