Thursday

27th Jul 2017

Serbia starts EU membership talks

  • Serbia wants to be ready to join the EU by 2020 (Photo: European Commission)

It was on the UN sanctions list and bombed by Nato in the 1990s Balkan wars, but Serbia on Tuesday (21 January) officially started EU membership talks at a ceremony in Brussels.

It will take several years of talks before it can join.

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.

But the Serbian Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, who flew in to the EU capital, described the event as the "most important moment for Serbia since the end of World War II.”

He said his country is now seen for what it wants to be - an EU member state - instead of people focusing on its role in past conflicts.

"This cabinet took office 18 months ago and nobody expected this from us. We surprised you, because expectations were very low," he noted.

He added that he had never heard "such nice words about Serbia" since the times of the Yugoslav-era Communist leader Josip Tito, who was popular in the West for his liberal policies compared to the rest of the Soviet bloc.

"I am sorry there was nothing to sign today, else I would have sent the pen to the museum," Dacic quipped.

He promised to continue Serbia’s normalisation of relations with Kosovo - the main sticking point in recent EU-Serb relations, but dodged the question whether his government will ever recognise the independence of its former province.

Dacic noted that EU member states themselves have "different positions" on Kosovo status.

"Nobody in Brussels asked us to change our position. Our goal is the normalisation of relations with Pristina, we need that," he said.

The government in Belgrade will continue reforms and aims to wrap up EU negotiations by 2020, he added.

For neighbouring Croatia, who joined the EU in July 2013, it also took six years to complete accession talks.

For his part, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele praised Serbia for its efforts on Kosovo.

He said the start of accesion talks is a "well-deserved recognition" of the developments.

He said this time around talks will start with the most difficult "chapters" - justice and home affairs - which will be also the last ones to be closed.

"There are new elements in the accession process based on lessons learned. These changes have the goal to strengthen the credibility of this process," Fuele said, referring to ongoing corruption problems in the last three EU countries which joined, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

EU enlargement heading into chilly period

The EU commission is not recommending any fresh steps on Western Balkan enlargement in the next 12 months, with one official saying the policy is in "de facto freeze".

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

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. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  2. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  3. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  5. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  6. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  7. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  10. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  11. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  12. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug

Latest News

  1. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  2. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  3. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  4. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis
  5. EU-US scrap on Russia sanctions gets worse
  6. Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles have one month to start taking migrants
  7. EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7
  8. Court told to 'dismiss' case against EU migrant quotas