BalkansNeighborhood enlargement

Negotiating box: final questions for Serbia (Update)

(Credit: Frédéric Bisson)
(Credit: Frédéric Bisson)

(BRUSSELS2) While the Ministers of General Affairs must today consider the green light to be given to Serbia's accession, the question still seemed in the balance... The Coreper meeting ended very late (around 21 p.m. ), Monday (December 16). And " the ambassadors did not entirely agree among themselves according to a European expert interviewed by B2 after the meeting. " The framework negotiation document (NB: which sets the timetable for the intergovernmental accession conferences) will be re-discussed between the ministers then formalized at the European Council if the decisions are positive " he added.

Three points are still debated

1) Setting a date for the first round of negotiations. " The question of the date is referred to the Ministers of the General Affairs Council » according to our European expertCoreper members were unable to agree on whether or not they should start in December or January.

2)  Official documents for the normalization of relations with Kosovo : " The question is still debated ». This is a condition required, among others, by Germany and the United Kingdom.

3) 'Normalization' or 'full normalization', according to the term indicated, this condition required in the context of negotiations, is more or less harsh.

Two opposing camps: The super-positives and the super-negatives

The positives. La Sweden, Italy, Austria for example are in favor of opening negotiations. On the Italian side, we unequivocally claim to be “super-positive”. Italy “is for a very rapid opening of negotiations, in December at best and not in January. (…) We want a delay in relation to the date of 15 days, until January, but not beyond. (…) No other conditions should be placed on the opening of negotiations. The agreement must not be postponed until the spring. This was already the case in July 2013” recalls a diplomat who adds “Serbia must not lose hope in Europe. There has been a lot of concrete progress in relations between Serbia and Kosovo. (…) There is still resistance. But it's not the majority »

The reluctant. THEGermany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands are more reluctant. Question of agreement with their public opinion, unfavorable to a new enlargement, for some (the Netherlands) or of positioning less favorable to Serbia. This is the case of the United Kingdom, although generally in favor of enlargement, “ his position is rather in favor of the Kosovars. And so he puts conditions on the agreement” explains a connoisseur of the file.

(Maj) As for France, it displays rather a certain caution : She is not " reluctant » at the opening of negotiations and would even “in favor of an agenda for January 2014”. However, it is one of the countries that  "insist on a commitment to move things forward with Kosovo". 

The light would rather be green

The High Representative made a very positive report on Serbia to begin these accession negotiations (read: Brief and confis (Dec. 15, 2013), even if, for the High Representative, at the end of the last meeting of the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue on December 13, “ the gap is very narrow but deep between the two ministers”. Although this eighth and final meeting ended with a failure to find an agreement on cooperation in police and justice matters (important for the municipalities of northern Kosovo) was not signed between the two parties, " this did not really have an impact on the Commission's line, rather very positive » remarks a European expert. Positive tone which is found even for ministers known for their lukewarmness towards the process. Didn't the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans, confide at the entrance to the Council of Foreign Ministers yesterday: “Serbia tried to make unprecedented efforts. And we have to be aware of that”...

To go further on the Club:


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).

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