European Western Balkans

Fajon does not expect UK to block Serbia's EU path

TANJUG_maliBRUSSELS – Chapter 23 in Serbia’s EU accession talks could still be opened in the coming days despite another failed attempt at reaching a consensus on this, MEP Tanja Fajon said Monday.This could be a kind of a grand finale, and I would not lose confidence – even though the EU is in an alarming situation post-Brexit, the enlargement process and the talks with Serbia are continuing, Fajon told Tanjug.

She said this after yet another meeting of the Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the EU (COELA) had ended earlier in the day without consent of the UK and Croatia to a draft of a common position on Chapter 23.

At a June 30 meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER), the EU member states could make another attempt at obtaining the two countries’ consent to perhaps organise an intergovernmental conference on the same day and open new chapters in the talks with Serbia.

Fajon said that everyone expected Serbia to open Chapters 23 and 24 before the summer break, possibly by the end of June, during the Dutch EU presidency.

Sources close to the Council of the EU and the Dutch presidency have said that Croatia and the UK were the two countries that had still not given their consent to the opening of Chapter 23, citing to “substantial” and “technical” problems, respectively.

As a result of the UK’s EU referendum, London maintains no position on Serbia’s next step in the EU talks, but European officials expect it to continue to honour all rights and obligations issuing from EU membership until the completion of the procedure of withdrawal from the Union.

Nevertheless, uncertainty persists in Brussels over how UK representatives will be involved in the work of all EU bodies, including those handling enlargement affairs.

Fajon said she did not expect the UK to put a principled veto on decisions within the EU’s working bodies.

The EU has requested that the decision of the UK’s citizens to leave the Union be implemented in practice as soon as possible – I hope that the required general consensus will be reached in the meantime and that Serbia will open the chapters as soon as possible – in the days to come or next month, Fajon said.

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