Sunday

28th Aug 2016

Romania flexes muscle at EU meeting on Serbia

  • Romania's foreign minister ducked press questions and flew straight home (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Romania caused confusion and annoyance with last-minute demands at an EU meeting on Serbia in Brussels on Tuesday (28 February).

Member states in the end endorsed giving Serbia EU candidate status, but not before extensive discussions with Romania, which threatened until the the very end to block the decision on grounds that Serbia is mistreating a Romanian minority group in the country.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The European Commission also drafted a special declaration to keep Bucharest happy.

"The commission is of the view that, while the legal and institutional framework for respecting and protecting minorities is in place in Serbia, implementation needs to continue to be further improved. It will continue to closely monitor Serbia's efforts in this regard," it said.

Romania had flagged up the minority issue at a meeting of foreign ministers in the EU capital on Monday.

But the doggedness of its opposition on Tuesday took colleagues by surprise, given that it had never made a big deal of it before and that the commission, in its long series of annual reports on Serbia, had never identified it as a serious problem.

The prevailing theory is that it wanted to show the Dutch how strongly it feels about the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.

Romania had hoped to join Schengen last year after fulfilling technical criteria. But the Netherlands blocked it on grounds it is too corrupt, causing national embarrassment. For its part, the Netherlands has invested a lot in Serbia's EU bid, helping to make sure in 2011 that it handed over its top war crimes fugitives to the international court in The Hague.

A decision on Romania's Schengen entry is now expected in July.

The Dutch delegation said Romania did not make any kind of Schengen-Serbia link. The Danish EU minister, Nicolai Wammen, who chaired Tuesday's event, also said: "The issue of Schengen was not raised."

But other diplomats and officials in and around the event said the Schengen fiasco was in the air.

One EU diplomat told this website: "It was about the Netherlands and the Schengen bid. The Romanians did not say anything like that today publicly, but there were one or two little comments about it at the Fac [the foreign ministers' meeting on Monday]. It's definitely part of the reason."

An EU official said: "A lot of time was devoted to this today and we were supposed to be preparing for the EU summit on Thursday, which has some serious business on its agenda about the financial crisis."

He added that EU presidents and prime ministers at the summit are now set to rubber stamp Serbia's candidate status. But he did not rule out that Romania's leader, or someone else, might come up with more last-minute objections. "After all, this is the EU," he said.

For his part, Romanian foreign minister Cristian Diaconescu, responsible for the fuss on Tuesday, cancelled his scheduled press briefing and flew back home citing time pressure.

Opinion

EU's Kosovo meddling risks Balkans chaos

The EU and the US are is unfairly pressuring Kosovo to ratify a border deal with Montenegro against the will of the opposition. It could bring trouble to the Western Balkans region.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey