Every year, as the current year draws to a close, the same question is being asked – when is Serbia finally going to join the EU?
While analysts estimate that it is impossible to expect the country to join the EU in the next five years, the Minister for European Integration, Jadranka Joksimović, believes that the new methodology applied in the matters relating to the EU membership will accelerate the whole process.
However, from the current perspective, it seems unlikely the European Commission’s Strategy for the Western Balkans will come true. At the beginning of 2018, the Strategy foresaw the possibility of Serbia and Montenegro joining the European Union in 2025.
A solution to the Kosovo issue is not on the agenda and key chapters 23 and 24 on the rule of law remain open, although they were opened back in 2016.
However, this is not the only problem for Serbia on the road to the EU in the next five years. The same “formalities”, i.e. the procedure of formalizing the EU membership, which also implies a certain amount of time, “shortens” the deadlines for European integration.
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The Vice-President of the European Movement in Serbia, Vladimir Medjak, explains what this is about.
“It is about the mechanism for entering the Union. In order for Serbia to join the EU on January 1, 2026, it must have concluded an accession treaty that will be ratified by all 27 members of the EU which requires a minimum of 18 months. This means that the Accession Treaty must be signed in June 2024. However, for this to happen, it must be drawn up for at least six months prior. Therefore, Serbia must close the last chapter by December 2023”, says Medjak.
However, this is not the end of “formalities”.
“Before that, the European Commission, through the Council of Ministers, has to inform the Member States that Serbia has fulfilled all the conditions to join the EU and therefore, under ideal circumstances, where all member countries support you, it takes at least four months. In conclusion, Serbia will have to complete all accession processes by September 2023, which means that it will have to open 16 more chapters and close key chapters 23 and 24 concerning the rule of law”, explains Medjak.
As he says, for this reason, Serbia has very little time to achieve that goal.
“If we bear in mind that the early presidential and parliamentary elections in Serbia will be held in 2022 and that it will certainly take six months, we come to the conclusion that Serbia has only 27 months to reach that goal. And this for the whole of 2021, half of 2022 and nine months of 2023”, he warns.
The new EU accession methodology that has been presented this year cannot accelerate this process.
“We have yet to see how much this methodology will help. But it is already clear that until the state has completed the so-called intermediate steps, which are chapters 23 and 24, it will not be able to close the other chapters either. And key chapters 23 and 24 regarding the rule of law cannot be closed without changes to the Constitution in the justice segment which, in turn, is only possible achieve via a referendum. This means that we should hold the referendum together with the early presidential and parliamentary elections in 2022. At the same time, we are lagging behind in a number of other areas”, Medjak says and adds that Serbia is only ready to close Chapter 7 on intellectual property at present time.
This post is also available in: Italiano