In 2021, Serbia is expected to switch to the newly adopted accession methodology in negotiations with the EU, which will have different dynamic and increased efficiency on the way to EU membership.
After 2020, in which Serbia, for the first time since the beginning of accession negotiations, did not open any accession chapters, the country is preparing for a new phase and the transition to the opening of so-called “clusters”, which will include several thematically integrated chapters.
The essence of this new approach is that key sectors to address the EU accession process should be more strongly emphasized instead of individual chapters, thus establishing a framework for political dialogue and the engagement of political leaders.
The first cluster is the most important and deals with the “Fundamentals”, which include criteria regarding politics, democratic institutions, economics, and public administration reform, the economic criterion, public administration reform, as well as chapters dedicated to rule of law, public procurement, financial control, and statistics.
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This cluster will have a special role in the further course of accession negotiations because the overall course of negotiations will depend on the fulfilment of the obligations undertaken in this cluster. Taking into account that Serbia has opened the mentioned chapters in the course of its negotiations so far, it can be considered that this entire cluster has already been opened.
However, if Serbia does not fulfil its obligations in this area in time, it is possible that the European Commission or member states will request the suspension of negotiations. While the suspension of negotiations was also included as an option in the old methodology, the way, the way of reaching decisions on suspension is now simplified, and based on the decision of the so-called “reverse qualified majority”.
Another change is that the eventual reopening of this cluster will be more complicated and time-consuming as compared to the existing practice.
Taking into account the current course of Serbia’s negotiations with the EU, it remains to be seen how the remaining clusters dealing with the common market (Serbia has opened 4 out of 9 chapters), economic competitiveness and inclusive growth (Serbia has opened 5 out of 8 chapters), the green agenda and sustainable connectivity (Serbia has opened 0 out of 4 chapters), resources, agriculture, and cohesion (Serbia has opened 2 out of 5 chapters), and external relations (Serbia has opened 1 out of 2 chapters) will be opened.
This post is also available in: Italiano