Monday

21st Jan 2019

Serbia and Montenegro face setbacks on EU path

Leaders are to grant Serbia EU candidate status in March 2012 provided it steps up talks with Kosovo, while Montenegro's membership talks will start in June pending a crackdown on corruption and crime.

"With a view to granting Serbia the status of candidate country by March 2012," EU leaders ask for more progress in talks with Kosovo, according to draft conclusions seen by EUobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • EU enlargement is slowing down as the bloc struggles with the economic crisis (Photo: European Commission)

Serbia had hoped to be given candidate status at this EU summit after earlier this year handing over top war crimes suspects to The Hague and last week agreeing to joint customs and immigrations checks with Kosovo.

But Germany - backed by Austria, Finland and the UK - said the Kosovo deal was too little, too late after Kosovar Serbs injured Austrian and German Nato soldiers with live ammunition and rocks last week.

The three other "if-s" attached in the EU draft conclusions - implementation "in good faith" of the customs deal, "inclusive regional co-operation" and allowing EU police and Nato troops to "execute their mandate" in north Kosovo - indicate that even the March date is not set in stone.

"It won't happen if they start shooting German troops again," one senior EU official told this website on condition of anonymity.

The March date is important because Serbian President Boris Tadic - the EU's biggest ally in Belgrade - faces parliamentary elections in May.

For his part, Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen earlier this week said Serbia should get status this year.

But a senior Nato official at the same press breifing in Brussels said people do not buy Serbia's line that it does not control the north Kosovo militants.

"We welcome President Tadic's call on the Serbs to remove the blockade and we want to see that happening. Serbia still has links in this part of the world, we would appreciate its help to restore freedom of movement," the official said.

Meanwhile, Montenegro - which split from Serbia in 2006 but, unlike Kosovo, is recognised by Belgrade as an independent country - will start EU membership talks in June 2012, the draft conclusions said.

The EU leaders noted it still has work to do on tackling organised crime and corruption.

A special report by the European Commission in the first half of 2012 will also looking at how the new country protects fundamental rights and guarantees the independence of its judiciary.

Correction: This article was corrected at 9:50am Brussels time on 9 December after it wrongly said Montenegro was not given EU candidate status.

Leaked report challenges EU line on Serbian judiciary

Serbia's reform of the judiciary system is riddled with inconsistencies, intransparent and subject to political pressure, a leaked report shows in an apparent contradiction with the EU's public statement on the issue.

Nato invites Montenegro to start accession talks

A Nato that includes Montenegro would cover almost the entire coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The extended hand to Montenegro can be expected to trigger sharp reactions from Russia.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

News in Brief

  1. May U-turn on fee for EU nationals in UK
  2. French data watchdog gives Google €50m fine
  3. EU hits Russians with sanctions over Salisbury attack
  4. 'Don't look for answers to Brussels', EU tells UK
  5. Germany warns UK not to 'misuse' EU patience on Brexit
  6. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  7. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  8. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us