Out of all West Balkan countries that are yet to join the EU, Serbia and Montenegro could be the first to do that in 2025.
But first they will have to resolve border conflicts with neighbouring countries. Serbia will also have to meet a number of prerequisites, the most important of them being signing an agreement with Pristina on normalization of relations.
This is what the European Commission’s draft strategy titled “The credible prospect of enlargement to the Western Balkans” says, the parts of which were published by the Croatian daily, Jutarnji List. If this document were to be adopted, this would mean that, for the first time ever, the EU has a concrete plan and a date for Serbia’s accession into the EU.
So, what are the main prerequisites for Serbia stated in the document?
Serbia will have to sign a legally binding agreement on normalization of relations with official Pristina. This is also mentioned in the chapter 35 in the EU’s accession talks with Serbia and it is an issue that is considered to hold special importance. The said agreement should be signed by 2019.
Another condition is for Serbia to resolve the ongoing border conflicts. The EC’s draft strategy says that Serbia (and Montenegro) would have to solve the border issues by 2023, because “the EU does not want to import border conflicts between the countries in the region”.
The strategy states that a permanent solution should be find before the candidate countries join the EU, and if that does not happen, the two sides will have to let arbitration or the International Court of Justice resolve the matter before 2023, i.e. before the signing of the pre-accession agreements.
So far, Serbia has resolved the border issue only with Macedonia, back in 2001, and is currently working on the same thing with Bosnia and Herzegovina (over 97% of the issue is already resolved).
According to the EC, by the end of 2019, Serbia would have to meet the interim requirements regarding the rule of law (all 50 of them) so that, in 2020, the EU would define the final requirements for closing of chapter 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights).
If the draft strategy is adopted, Serbia should be pleased with it because this is the first ever document that specifically mentions the date for our country’s EU accession.
This post is also available in: Italiano