Saturday

17th Aug 2019

EU lifts hurdle on Serbia's path to accession

  • Tadic: The trade move will help to bring in foreign investors (Photo: European Commission)

EU foreign affairs ministers on Monday (7 December) removed restrictions against a trade agreement with Serbia after the Netherlands put aside objections related to Belgrade's performance on war crimes probes.

The agreement was signed in April 2008 and was never ratified due to the Dutch position, even though its terms were implemented internally by Serbia in a situation playing to the EU's financial advantage.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Netherlands had taken a tough line on Belgrade's failure to hand over two war crimes suspects, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.

Mr Mladic is implicated in the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, in which Dutch peacekeepers were blamed for a lack of action.

The 67-year-old fugitive is still on the run.

But a positive report from UN chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz on the way in which Belgrade is co-operating with the war crimes tribunal in the Hague helped persuade the Netherlands to back down.

The move is good news for Belgrade on its EU accession track and comes just one week after the bloc's interior ministers decided to lift visa requirements for Serb citizens from 19 December.

Serbia and the EU in 2008 signed a so-called Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) - seen as a first step toward membership - of which the trade pact was a part. But the SAA is unlikely to be fully ratified until Mladic and Hadzic are behind bars.

Serb politicians have already made public their intention to formally apply for EU membership still this month, despite advice from the Swedish EU presidency to hold off until the SAA is in the bag.

Serbia's President Boris Tadic on Monday welcomed the trade agreement move, saying it will make the country more attractive to foreign investors.

"This makes our country a more reliable investment zone. We are working very much and very specifically on further European integration, and on the other hand very specifically on creating conditions for investments, in these times of crisis when every country is fighting for every job position," he said.

Serbia to apply for EU membership on Tuesday

The Serbian government has announced its decision to formally apply for EU membership, a move welcomed as "historical step"by the Swedish presidency of the bloc. A ceremony in Stockholm on Tuesday will mark the event.

EU split on Western Balkans accession

Europe's credibility is at risk in the Western Balkans, half its member states have warned - but EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Albania and North Macedonia unlikely to start accession talks soon.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

News in Brief

  1. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Opinion

EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us