Wednesday

1st Jun 2016

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.

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.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceSugar-Sweetened Beverage Sales Barometer Unveils Unhealthy Drinking Patterns in Europe
  2. EJCWelcomes EU Commission Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online
  3. Access NowEDRi & Access Now Withdraw From the EU Commission IT Forum Discussions
  4. EJCCalls on EU Parliament to Take Action Against MEP who Compared Israelis to "a rash"
  5. EU Sustainable Energy WeekHave Your Say On Europe's Energy Future At Our High-Level Policy Conference.
  6. CESIUpcoming On June 14: CESI@Noon On ‘Labour Market Integration Of Regugees’
  7. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  8. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  10. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  11. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  12. Swedish EnterprisesNew Rules For Posted Workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?