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And 28! Croatia is yes, Serbia maybe yes!

Signing of Croatia's accession treaty (credit: European Commission)

(BRUXELLES2) Croatia won, today, on the sidelines of the European summit, its stripes of 28e Member state of the European Union. The Accession Treaty must now be ratified in all 28 countries.

A stone's throw from status

Serbia, on the other hand, did not obtain its status as an EU candidate country. But the 27 did not dare to inflict the snub of a refusal of the status of the candidate country. Serbia has, in fact, fulfilled all the conditions required of it, in particular the delivery of war crimes suspects requested by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the opening of a dialogue with Pristina .

But the persistent, even growing, tensions in northern Kosovo have weighed on the last few weeks. The latest skirmishes that left several German troops injured only encouraged Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, to harden her position. She demanded Serbia. But several countries, notably France or neighboring countries such as Hungary, were campaigning for the recognition of the status of the candidate country.

With elections approaching (scheduled for May next year), the risk of radicalization is real. And the recent conclusion of an agreement on border crossings between Belgrade and Pristina gives rise to relative optimism. The 27 therefore tinkered with a new procedure.

An evaluation in the form of pressure

An assessment will be carried out. It will be conducted under the aegis of the Ministers for European Affairs. The criteria for this evaluation are twofold. One is of a political and legal nature: it concerns the continuation of the dialogue between the two Balkan neighbours, the settlement of the question of the presence of Kosovo in regional or international forums as well as the proper application of the measures already taken (border posts, etc.). The other is more physical and delicate. It is a question of obtaining the lifting of the roadblocks in the north of Kosovo and the respect of free movement in this contested part. The work of the police, judges and customs officers of Eulex must also be made possible. This method has the advantage to increase the pressure on Belgrade “, explained to B2 a European diplomat. " It is not a question of having measures in 1 or 2 years. But quickly. February is very close. And the dialogue that has been started must continue. Both parties, Serbs and Kosovars, must also implement what they have agreed. It is important "

The power to say yes

The decision will be taken in February, at the Council of General Affairs Ministers. It will be the ministers who will have all the power to accept the status of candidate country for Serbia. And this result will then be endorsed by the European Council in March. " This decision will be automatic "Said Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, who would have preferred to be able to" to say welcome to Croatia and, on the same day, to say welcome to the status of candidate country Serbia. It is important for the stability of Serbia, the region and Europe as a whole he explained.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).