Sunday

29th May 2022

Romania flexes muscle at EU meeting on Serbia

  • Romania's foreign minister ducked press questions and flew straight home (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Romania caused confusion and annoyance with last-minute demands at an EU meeting on Serbia in Brussels on Tuesday (28 February).

Member states in the end endorsed giving Serbia EU candidate status, but not before extensive discussions with Romania, which threatened until the the very end to block the decision on grounds that Serbia is mistreating a Romanian minority group in the country.

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

The European Commission also drafted a special declaration to keep Bucharest happy.

"The commission is of the view that, while the legal and institutional framework for respecting and protecting minorities is in place in Serbia, implementation needs to continue to be further improved. It will continue to closely monitor Serbia's efforts in this regard," it said.

Romania had flagged up the minority issue at a meeting of foreign ministers in the EU capital on Monday.

But the doggedness of its opposition on Tuesday took colleagues by surprise, given that it had never made a big deal of it before and that the commission, in its long series of annual reports on Serbia, had never identified it as a serious problem.

The prevailing theory is that it wanted to show the Dutch how strongly it feels about the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.

Romania had hoped to join Schengen last year after fulfilling technical criteria. But the Netherlands blocked it on grounds it is too corrupt, causing national embarrassment. For its part, the Netherlands has invested a lot in Serbia's EU bid, helping to make sure in 2011 that it handed over its top war crimes fugitives to the international court in The Hague.

A decision on Romania's Schengen entry is now expected in July.

The Dutch delegation said Romania did not make any kind of Schengen-Serbia link. The Danish EU minister, Nicolai Wammen, who chaired Tuesday's event, also said: "The issue of Schengen was not raised."

But other diplomats and officials in and around the event said the Schengen fiasco was in the air.

One EU diplomat told this website: "It was about the Netherlands and the Schengen bid. The Romanians did not say anything like that today publicly, but there were one or two little comments about it at the Fac [the foreign ministers' meeting on Monday]. It's definitely part of the reason."

An EU official said: "A lot of time was devoted to this today and we were supposed to be preparing for the EU summit on Thursday, which has some serious business on its agenda about the financial crisis."

He added that EU presidents and prime ministers at the summit are now set to rubber stamp Serbia's candidate status. But he did not rule out that Romania's leader, or someone else, might come up with more last-minute objections. "After all, this is the EU," he said.

For his part, Romanian foreign minister Cristian Diaconescu, responsible for the fuss on Tuesday, cancelled his scheduled press briefing and flew back home citing time pressure.

Leaked report challenges EU line on Serbian judiciary

Serbia's reform of the judiciary system is riddled with inconsistencies, intransparent and subject to political pressure, a leaked report shows in an apparent contradiction with the EU's public statement on the issue.

Serbia shows sympathy for Kosovo amid EU talks

Serbia has voiced sympathy for the family of an ethnic Albanian policeman killed in north Kosovo. But the gesture of good will comes amid harsh words on the future of the disputed region.

Serbia gets political support for EU bid

Leaders from Germany, France, Italy and Austria have voiced their support for Serbia to become a future member of the EU. The move comes ahead of next week's EU summit which is due to discuss the matter.

Romanian PM ignores court, heads to EU summit

EU leaders may be at odds over what to say at today's key summit, but Romanian politicians cannot even decide who should attend. A court ruling has not put an end to the squabbling.

EU leaders meet on economy, Schengen and Serbia

EU leaders at a two-day EU summit on Thursday will look where each country stands in terms of public deficit, taxes and retirement ages. Schengen enlargement and Serbia are also on the agenda.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us