Europe

Serbia meets criteria to open new chapters in accession talks: EU Commission

EU supports Serbia’s ‘ambition to open as soon as possible new clusters,’ says commissioner for enlargement

Mustafa Talha Öztürk   | 19.10.2021
Serbia meets criteria to open new chapters in accession talks: EU Commission

BELGRADE, Serbia

Serbia has met the criteria to open two sets of chapters in the EU accession talks, an EU commissioner for enlargement said Tuesday.

“We welcome that Serbia fulfilled opening benchmarks for opening clusters three and four. We support Serbia’s ambition to open as soon as possible new clusters in the talks on the basis of continuing reform progress,” Oliver Varhelyi said during a presentation meeting on the enlargement package and country reports on foreign relations.

Serbia has met criteria for competitiveness and growth, and green agenda and sustainable connectivity.

This is the first time in two years that new chapters will be opened for Serbia.

Varhelyi, however, said progress still needs to be made in areas such as the rule of law, freedom of expression and press, and the fight against corruption.

“The Western Balkans are part of the same Europe… The European Union is not complete without the Western Balkans,” he stated.

The membership process of the six countries in the region is progressing positively, he also said.

For Montenegro and Serbia, Varhelyi said, “our clear assessment is that an overall balance in the negotiations is currently ensured.”

Montenegro has opened all negotiation chapters, the EU commissioner said, however, added that “the priority for further overall progress remains the fulfilment of the rule of law interim benchmarks.”

He said: “In Serbia there is a renewed commitment to reform, the constitutional amendment to strengthen the independence of the judiciary is on track and should be finalized by the end of this year.”

Varhelyi also stressed that Serbia should make progress on the rule of law and normalization of relations with Kosovo.

“EU-facilitated dialogue on normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo remains central to their EU future and for stability of the whole region. Both parties need to engage constructively towards the objective of concluding a legally-binding comprehensive normalization agreement. Unilateral and uncoordinated actions that endanger stability should be avoided,” said Varhelyi.

In May, the European Council decided to group the negotiation chapters into six clusters to help the candidate countries speed up their preparations, and agreed to continue the accession negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia with the new methodology in question.

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