Thursday

22nd Oct 2020

Push for Serbia EU accession speed-up in wake of Kosovo court ruling

A number of EU states are in favour of speeding up Serbia's EU accession process in the wake of Belgrade's loss at the International Court of Justice over Kosovo's declaration of independence.

The foreign ministers of Italy, Slovakia and Austria pushed for such a move heading into Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers, the first time EU governments discussed the implications of the ICJ's finding last week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Ahead of the day's meeting, Italian foreign policy chief Franco Frattini told reporters: "At a time when we should understand Serbia's disappointment ... we need to help a sincere pro-European like [Serbian President Boris] Tadic with very positive message."

On 22 July, the International Court of Justice in the Hague opined that Kosovo had not violated international law by declaring independence in 2008.

"It could not have been today ... but the very positive message would be the handing over of Serbia's EU application to the European Commission," he said, referring to the next step in the process, in which the Council, representing the member states, request an evaluation of the application.

"Belgrade deserves a message of encouragement, such as the European path remaining open with no further preconditions," he said.

Austria's foreign minister, Michael Spindelegger, also suggested some movement on Serbia's accession prospects was warranted.

"The important thing for Serbia is that we make their prospect of progress towards Europe concrete," he said, hinting that the autumn would be an appropriate time for such a move.

Using similar language, Slovakia, one of the EU's five member states refusing to recognise Kosovar independence, also argued for a "concrete roadmap" for Serbian accession.

Asked about a speed-up in the process, Slovak foreign minister Mikulas Dzurinda told reporters after the meeting: "I am for this ... This direction in relations between Belgrade and the EU community I consider substantial."

"We need to keep Belgrade with us more closely than before. We will do our best to add our voice to this, giving something like a concrete roadmap."

"The closer Serbia is to the EU, the better for Serbia, the Balkans and the EU, so I won't put put any barriers in the way."

A Romanian diplomat also suggested there had been a discussion focussing on the need "to keep the rhythm up," while adding: "it is too much to say speeding anything up."

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also downplayed the idea of any quid pro quo for Belgrade's loss at the International Court of Justice.

"There was a discussion on the back of the ICJ opinion and of support for talks with Pristina and Belgrade, but there was no discussion of speed or anything of that nature."

Kosovo to restart EU/US-led Serbia talks

Restarting talks on Serbia relations will be the new Kosovo prime minister's top priority, he said, but will the EU or the US lead the process?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  2. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  3. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups
  4. France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder
  5. All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter
  6. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  7. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  8. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us