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Serbia: New attempt to be made at reaching consensus on Chapter 23

BRUSSELS – The EU member states will on Monday make another attempt at reaching a consensus on a common negotiating position for Chapter 23 in Serbia’s accession talks.

Serbia still needs the consent of six member states, diplomatic sources have told Tanjug ahead of another meeting of the Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the EU (COELA).

The countries include the Netherlands, which holds the EU presidency, and whose vote should round out the consensus.

According to sources in the Dutch EU presidency, some of the five remaining nations (Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Croatia and the UK) have announced that they would consent to a draft negotiating position for Chapter 23, but two have said that they had a “substantial” and a “technical” problem, respectively.

Even though a declaration aimed at mending the relations between Belgrade and Zagreb, signed by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, had been expected by diplomatic circles in Brussels to expedite a Croatian consent on the opening of Chapter 23, there is none as yet.

At the same time, due to technical reasons associated with the UK’s EU referendum, the COELA has still not obtained London’s consent for further steps regarding Serbia’s accession talks.

The COELA should hold another meeting on June 30, when the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER) is scheduled to meet as well.

European diplomatic sources have told Tanjug that a June 30 consensus on a draft EU negotiating position for Chapter 23 remained a possibility and that the green light for the opening of Chapters 23, 24 and 5 could be given at the COREPER meeting.

In that case, holding an intergovernmental conference on the opening of the chapters would be technically feasible on the same day, the sources said.

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