Saturday

19th Aug 2017

EU report good for Kosovo, bad for Serbia

  • Pristina dress shop - the ethnic-Albanian belt of the Western Balkans got good news (Photo: CharlesFred)

The European Commission has said Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia should take steps forward in their bids to join the EU.

Its annual enlargement report out on Wednesday (10 October) recommended that member states should give Albania official EU candidate status and repeated calls to open accession talks with Macedonia.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It also said EU countries can sign a pre-accession pact, called a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), with Kosovo despite the fact five of them do not recognise its statehood.

EU capitals will decide whether to endorse the commission's ideas at a summit in December.

But the list of caveats in the commission survey gives them plenty of scope not to move forward on any of the proposals.

On Albania, the commission said it should gain the new status only if it makes progress on judicial reform, organised crime and new rules on how to behave in parliament. Enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele added that elections in March next year will be a "crucial test."

On Macedonia, Fuele said starting talks - the commission's standing recommendation since 2009 - would "lessen the risk" it might lose faith in its EU future because of the name dispute with Greece.

Greece and Macedonia are at odds over use of the appellation "Macedonia" because Athens says it implies a territorial claim on a Greek region of the same name.

Fuele did not propose a solution. But he said talks could start with the aim of resolving the name dispute "at an early stage" in the negotiations.

The commission's view on Kosovo is also designed to save time.

"The possibility for the Union to conclude international agreements is not limited to generally recognised independent states ... In the past, the EU has concluded several international agreements with entities other than sovereign states," its report said.

If EU countries accept the line, they can launch SAA talks and try to solve the legal quandary later on.

EUobserver understands the legal analysis behind the commission statement is based on analogies with past EU pacts with Hong Kong and Taiwan. Neither are fully-fledged sovereign states. But the analogy is problematic because neither have an EU accession promise, which Kosovo does.

Serbia came out as the big loser on Wednesday.

It did not get commission backing for launching accession talks.

On top of that, Fuele came close to saying it has to recognise Kosovo if it wants to get into the EU by making "visible and sustainable improvement" in day-to-day ties "gradually leading to normalisation of relations" between the two sides.

His Serbia report also contained rebukes on gay rights.

Meanwhile, Croatia got the green light to join in mid-2013 as planned.

The commission spelled out a dozen or so small items to tidy up, such as signing a privatisation contract for the port of Brodosplit. But Fuele said Croatia should not be subject to post-accession monitoring, as imposed on Bulgaria and Romania.

He declined to get into the Croatia-Slovenia bank row which is threatening to delay the accession date.

Slovenia has said it will not ratify Croatia's accession unless it stops asking for its money back from Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka in an affair going back to the break-up of Yugoslavia.

But the threat is still real despite Fuele's laissez faire approach.

A Slovenian foreign ministry official told EUobserver from Ljubljana the same day that: "If Croatia withdraws the authorisation from its commercial banks from suing Ljubljanska Banka at court, that would be the signal that the ratification process can go on."

Serb leader bashes EU ahead of key report

Srebrenica was not genocide and Serbia will not bow to demands for Kosovo recognition, Serbia's leader has said on the eve of a key EU report.

Kosovo to Serbia: Time to face reality

Kosovo's foreign minister has said the end of supervised independence should make Serbia realise it can never divide Kosovo or get it back.

Opinion

Overcoming the plot against Turkish democracy

One year after an attempted coup, what Turkey needs is not biased and groundless criticism but more cooperation, dialogue and understanding, writes its Europe minister Omer Celik.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides