Monday

29th May 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.

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.

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.

EU urges Turkey to investigate election fraud

The EU called for a transparent investigation into alleged irregularities during the referendum in Turkey, which gave sweeping powers to president Erdogan. It added that reinstating the death penalty would end the country's EU bid.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhat's Going on in Catalonia? Join the Debate on 8 June
  2. Swedish EnterprisesDo We Need a More Social Europe? A Lively Debate Awaits You on 7 June
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersDiscover the Role of Feminism in the Peripheries of Europe on 9 June
  4. Malta EU 2017EU Group Launched to Focus on Priorities and Policies Concerning Children
  5. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  8. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  9. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  10. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  11. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  12. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade

Latest News

  1. Macron and Putin hold uneasy first talks
  2. From Greece to Scotland, we stand by Europe
  3. Juncker keen to build EU 'bridge' to Trump
  4. Ministers water down post-Dieselgate reform
  5. Club de combat: des espions russes recherchent des recrues européennes
  6. Judges refuse to 'let go' of Le Pen's fake jobs case
  7. Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore
  8. Macron to tell Putin EU sanctions to stay