Main steps towards the EU
Following the referendum on independence organised on 21 May 2006 in Montenegro (in which 55.5% of voters expressed their support for independence whereas the turnout reached 86.5% of those eligible to vote), on 5 June Serbian Parliament, acting in accordance with Article 60 of the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro confirmed the continuity of Serbia as a legal successor of the State Union and informed thereof the EU and other representatives of the international community.
On 12 June 2006 the EU Council adopted Conclusions, in which taking note of the Serbian Parliament’s Decision it recognised Republic of Serbia as a legal successor of the State Union. The Council called also on Montenegro and on Serbia to pursue a direct and constructive dialogue on their future relations.
The Government of Serbia declared the European integration to be one of the strategic priorities for the Republic.
Since 2001 Serbia has benefited from the EU policy advice provided through the EU-FRY Consultative Task Force (CTF), later replaced by the Enhanced Permanent Dialogue (EPD). The task of EPD is to encourage and monitor reforms on the basis of the European Partnership adopted by the EU Council in June 2004 and updated in January 2006. The current text takes due account of the respective competences and different priorities of Serbia and of Montenegro, will require however an adaptation following the change in the status of the Republics. The EPD structures will remain in place and continue providing support for the reforms in Serbia until formal contractual relations between the EU and Serbia are established through the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in the context of the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP). On the basis of decisions taken at the Thessaloniki Summit in June 2003 and confirmed on several occasions by the EU, Serbia is a potential candidate country for the EU accession.
In its Feasibility Report of 12 April 2005, the Commission concluded that Serbia and Montenegro is sufficiently prepared to negotiate an SAA with the EU. On 25 April 2005, the EU Council endorsed the Feasibility Report and invited the Commission to submit the negotiating directives for the SAA. In line with the “twin-track” approach the negotiations with the State Union and the two constituent Republics were launched in October 2005, whereas the Commission made clear that the continuation and pace of talks would depend on the progress in addressing by Serbia and Montenegro of issues highlighted by the Commission and the EU Council, including achievement of full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) without delay.
Since then two official and two technical rounds of talks were conducted and a progress was made in discussion on the text of the future agreement.
Following a negative assessment on the state of co-operation of Serbia and Montenegro and the failure of Serbia to locate, arrest and transfer Ratko Mladić to The Hague, submitted by ICTY, the Commission decided on 3 May 2006 to call off the negotiations.
In the light of the outcome of the referendum in Montenegro the Commission announced its intension to submit to the Council a proposal for an amended negotiating mandate for an SAA with Serbia. It recalled that even pending the adoption of the amended negotiating mandate it was prepared to resume negotiations as soon as the condition of co-operation with ICTY has been fulfilled.
The SAA will be a comprehensive agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Serbia, of the other part. Similar to the “Europe Agreements” with countries of the Central and Eastern Europe, the SAA will provide a legal framework for the relations between the EU and Serbia for the entire period prior to the possible future accession.
Since 2000 the EU has granted, on an autonomous basis, generous trade conditions for Serbian products as part of the support package in the framework of the SAP. In order to take the full advantage of these preferences Serbia will need to continue the necessary reforms and to develop its export capacity.
Bilateral trade relations with the EU also include the trade in textile and textile products, which is governed by the Textile Agreement signed between the Republic of Serbia and the EU on 31 March 2005. This agreement brings the immediate opening of the EU market for textile and textile products originating from Serbia and Serbia’s commitment to phase out its tariffs for the EU textile imports over a period of three years and to apply a zero tariff rate on EU textiles from January 2008 onwards.
In 2004, the imports to the EU from Serbia reached the level of 1.5 billion EUR.
In the same period, the major exports to Serbia from the EU were at the level of 4.769 billion EUR.
In total, combining CARDS, macro-financial and humanitarian assistance, EU assistance to the whole Serbia and Montenegro has amounted to more than €2.9 billion since 1991 to 2002, of which more than €2 billion since the fall of Milosevic regime in October 2000. The focus and main objectives of EU assistance have evolved since the 1990s, covering conflict management, post-conflict reconstruction and stabilisation and paving the way for a closer association with the EU. The support provided through CARDS in 2005 (154.5 million EUR for Serbia) focused mainly on the European Partnership priorities, taking into account political and economic situation in Serbia and the requirements the Republic will have to meet in order to be able to conclude the SAA negotiations and implement the agreement. Serbia benefits also from the regional CARDS programme which in 2005 had an overall budget of 40.0 million EUR to support actions of interest for the whole Western Balkans region in the field of infrastructure, institution building and cross-border co-operation. The annual CARDS programme for 2006 is in the process of being adopted.
Programming has also been launched for the preparation of the future IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance) of which Serbia will be a beneficiary together with all other countries in the Western Balkans in the period of 2007-2013. It will have two components (Institution Building and transition facility, and Cross-border cooperation). The financial framework for support to Serbia has not yet been decided.
Serbia – EU-Serbia Relations
Serbia is a potential candidate country for EU accession following the Thessaloniki European Council of June 2003. On 29 April 2008, the EU and Serbia signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and the Interim Agreement on Trade and Trade-related issues . The SAA will be submitted to parliaments for ratification and the implementation of the Interim Agreement will start as soon as the Council decides that Serbia fully co-operates with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). On 1 January 2008, a visa facilitation and a readmission agreement between Serbia and the EU came into force. On 15 July the European Commission proposed to grant visa liberalisation to Serbia.
On 18 February 2008 the Council adopted the new European partnership for Serbia. Consultations with the Serbian authorities across the range of reform issues are conducted through the Enhanced Permanent Dialogue process (EPD).
Serbia has benefited from EU autonomous trade measures since 2000. As a result of Serbia’s decision to start implementing the provisions of the Interim Agreement, the access of EU exporters to the Serbian market is expected to improve substantially as of 1 January 2009. The EU is the main trading partner of Serbia and EU-Serbia trade has been rapidly growing since 2000. Trade integration with the EU is high. During 2007, exports and imports of goods and services to and from the EU increased to 56% of the country’s total exports and 54% of its total imports, compared with 53% and 49% in 2006. Serbia has a large trade deficit with the EU: in 2007, its exports to the EU amounted to €3.6 billion and its imports from the EU to €7.4 billion. Serbia mainly sold agricultural products (sugar, raspberries), tires, iron, steel and machinery to the EU while the main goods bought from EU were vehicles, diesel fuels and medicaments.
Net foreign direct investment from EU countries in Serbia in 2007 was around € 2.3 billion.
Key dates in Serbia’s path towards the EU
15 July 2009 – European Commission proposes to grant Serbia visa liberalisation.
7 July 2008 – Following 11 May parliamentary elections, formation of a new government; European integration set as a key priority.
7 May 2008 – Commission hands over to the Serbian government the Road map on Visa liberalisation, set up with the aim of achieving a visa free regime for Serbian citizens wishing to travel to Schengen countries.
29 April 2008 – The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and the Interim Agreement on Trade and Trade-related issues between Serbia and the EU is signed in Luxembourg.
18 February 2008 – Council adopts the revised European partnership for Serbia.
1 January 2008 – Entry into force of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreement between Serbia and the EU.
7 November 2007 – The SAA with Serbia is initialled.
13 June 2007 – SAA negotiations with Serbia resumed, following a clear commitment by the country to achieve full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and concrete actions undertaken by the country that have matched this commitment.
3 May 2006 – SAA negotiations called off due to lack of progress on Serbia’s co-operation with the ICTY.
October 2005 – Launch of the negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
October 2004 – Council conclusions open up a process for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
June 2003 – at Thessaloniki European Council, the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) is confirmed as the EU policy for the Western Balkans. The EU perspective for these countries is confirmed.
2001 – First year of the new Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) programme specifically designed for the SAP countries.
November 2000 – Zagreb Summit launches the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South-Eastern Europe.
November 2000 – “Framework Agreement Federal Republic of Yugoslavia-EU for the provision of Assistance and Support by the EU to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”. Serbia benefits from Autonomous Trade Preferences from the EU.
June 2000 – Feira European Council states that all the SAP countries are “potential candidates” for EU membership.
1999 – The EU proposes the new Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) for five countries of South-Eastern Europe, including Serbia.
1997 – Regional Approach. The EU Council of Ministers establishes political and economic conditionality for the development of bilateral relations.
Progress Report on Serbia
Over the last year there has been progress in Serbia’s European integration process. The European Commission noted in its Annual Progress Report for Serbia that in light of sustained cooperation with ICTY. In this context the Commission considers that the Interim Agreement should now be implemented by the EU, followed by the full implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). The Commission expects Serbia to continue its co-operation with ICTY which should eventually lead to the arrest of the two remaining fugitives, General Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.
Presenting the progress report for Serbia, Ambassador Vincent Degert said: “Serbia has demonstrated its commitment to bringing the country closer to the EU by building a track record in implementing the provisions of the Interim Agreement with the EU and by undertaking key reforms in a wide number of areas in line with European standards.”
The Annual Report notes that Serbia needs to continue its efforts to carry out and implement EU related reforms and to fully commit itself to the path of European Integration.
The EU has for its part shown clear support for these efforts by earmarking substantial financial assistance – €1 billion for the period of 2007-2011 and additional €200 million of micro financial assistance.
The EU is also supporting efforts to bring Serbian people closer to the EU by finalising the visa liberalisation process. The European Commission encourages Serbia to meet the outstanding benchmarks to ensure the endorsement of the Commission’s proposal by the member states and thus make visa free travel a reality by 1 January 2010.
The country faces, at the same time, the difficult requirements of accelerating economic reforms and ensuring sustainability in the public finances. Concerning other challenges, the Progress Report states that the country needs to make further progress in a number of areas, including the effective implementation of existing laws; the improvement of public consultation prior to the adoption of laws; the reform of the judicial system and in reinforcing its capacity to fight against corruption. Furthermore there continue to be concerns about incidents of intimidation of civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists that are not fully investigated and where the perpetrators are not brought to justice. Serbia needs to demonstrate a more constructive attitude on regional co-operation and issues related to Kosovo.
Together with Serbia the European Commission adopted its annual strategy on EU enlargement and the progress reports for the candidate and potential candidate countries. The strategy highlights the progress the Western Balkans and Turkey made towards European integration during a difficult year of global economic crisis, and spells out the main challenges ahead.
2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and 5 years since the enlargement of the EU to central and Eastern Europe. The prospect of EU accession continues to provide strong encouragement for political and economic reform and reinforces peace and stability. It is in the EU’s strategic interest to keep up this momentum, on the basis of agreed principles and conditions.
The EU enlargement process currently takes place against the background of a deep and widespread recession, which has affected both the EU and the enlargement countries.
Brussels, 14.October (PDF, 386 KB,na Engleskom)
Brussels, 08.February(na Engleskom)
of the progress reports on Kosovo 1 and the potential candidates: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia
Brussels, 14.October (PDF, 94 KB,na Engleskom)
HOW TO ACCESS EUROPEAN UNION FUNDING
The EU cannot even control animal welfare in EXISTING EU MEMBER STATES, let alone potential future states ! – Romania, Greece, Spain – all current EU members; all have massive stray animal welfare problems; and the EU DOES NOT ACT.
The EU worries about only one thing – MONEY.
Animal Welfare comes way down low.
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