BRUSSELS – The EU Member states did not give the green light for opening new negotiations chapters with Serbia in June, but agreed to hold an intergovernmental conference, during which a new negotiation methodology and next steps in the process will be presented, media reported.
According to RTS, a significant number of member states did not agree to open clusters three and four, estimating that Serbia, despite some progress, has not made enough, primarily in the area of the rule of law.
The decision to hold a political “explanatory” intergovernmental conference with Serbia on June 22 was adopted as a compromise solution, as a sign of support for Belgrade to continue with reforms, which would lead to the possible opening of a chapter at the next intergovernmental conference.
According to diplomatic sources, during the internal debate in the EU, the European Commission called for the opening of clusters three and four on June 22, estimating that Serbia began to achieve results and that the opening would encourage further improvement of the rule of law situation.
The European Commission spokesperson Ana Pisonero did not confirm or deny the media claims that no cluster will be opened to Serbia this month for Danas.
She pointed out that the EU welcomes the fact that Serbia has accepted the revised methodology and the adoption of administrative structures.
“The European Commission fully supports Serbia’s ambition to open clusters as soon as possible and recognizes Serbia’s efforts regarding clusters and the rule of law. We encourage Serbia to maintain this momentum to persevere in reforms in all areas, especially in the rule of law,” Pisonero said.
According to Pisonero, the European Commission will continue to support the opening of the cluster as soon as possible.
“We are looking forward to the upcoming political intergovernmental conference in June, which should provide a significant political stimulus to the enlargement process with Serbia, making it more dynamic, credible and predictable, and with stronger political guidance, in line with improved methodology,” Pisonero told Danas.
Nevertheless, number of member states, including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Croatia and Bulgaria, maintained that the opening decision would take more time and concrete results, and some member states also raised the issue of insufficient harmonization of Serbia with the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU.
Having in mind the position of the European Commission and the strong support of many countries for opening the cluster, the EU will try to send a message of encouragement to Belgrade at the political intergovernmental conference, in a situation when no negotiating chapter has been opened in the last year and a half.
According to the new enlargement methodology, the chapters are grouped into six thematic units or clusters. Cluster four, whose opening has been announced, includes four chapters: on transport policy, energy, environment and trans-European networks.
Serbia started negotiations on EU membership in January 2014. Out of a total of 35 chapters, eighteen have been opened so far, and two have been temporarily closed.
Joksimovic: The European Commission is not ready for the New Methodology
The Minister for European Integration, Jadranka Joksimović, stated on the occasion of the announcement that a political intergovernmental conference will be held in the continuation of negotiations on Serbia’s membership in the EU by the end of June, that it is obvious that the EU is not yet fully ready for the full application of the new methodology.
“Belgrade is not surprised by the decision of the European Union not to open any chapter, ie cluster with Serbia.” It is obvious that not only the European Union was not ready to apply the new methodology, but there was also no political will “, said the Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimović in an interview for RTS.
However, she believes that our reform course will be strengthened at the Intergovernmental Conference, which is scheduled for June 22.
“For Serbia, the information that the Intergovernmental Conference will be held at a very high level is more important, which is a signal that everything we have done so far has not gone unnoticed and that the results that Serbia has cannot be ignored,” told Joksimović for RTS.
The Minister said that although member states had different arguments on why Serbia should not open a new cluster, not all states were against it.
“France has supported the opening of the cluster, as well as Italy, Slovakia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria. Those who were against had different arguments, but let’s move on, and the Intergovernmental Conference is an excellent format “, the Minister believes.