- The EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) held its fifth meeting on 18 December 2018. This meeting was chaired by Ms Ana Brnabić, Prime Minister of Serbia. Ms Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, led the EU delegation. Christian Danielsson, Director General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, represented the European Commission.
- The SA Council meeting provided a timely opportunity to review Serbia’s progress in its preparations for accession and to consider priorities for further work within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
- The SA Council reiterated its commitment to Serbia’s European perspective, for which public support should be enhanced through active and unambiguous communication.
- It welcomed the overall progress made in Serbia’s EU accession negotiations, bringing the total number of chapters opened to sixteen, two of which have been provisionally closed.
- The SA Council encouraged Serbia to intensify reform efforts and to deliver convincing results, including a sustainable track record, in particular on democratic governance and the rule of law, including judiciary and war crimes, freedom of expression, and the fight against corruption and organised crime. The SA Council reiterated the importance for Serbia to meet in a timely manner the commitments taken in its Action Plans for chapters 23 and 24. In this regard, the SA Council underlined the importance of creating an enabling environment in Serbia, in order to promote all above-mentioned fundamental areas.
- The SA Council recalled that the legislative process in the parliament and its oversight over the work of the executive need to be improved as a matter of priority. The SA Council expressed its expectation for Serbia to address all OSCE/ODIHR recommendations in an inclusive and transparent manner, and as a matter of priority ahead of the next election cycle. The SA Council further recalled that an empowered, resilient and diverse civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and should be recognised and treated as such by the Serbian institutions.
- The SA Council expected Serbia to remain constructively engaged in the EU-facilitated Belgrade – Pristina Dialogue in view of concluding a legally-binding agreement on comprehensive normalisation. All Dialogue agreements already agreed need to be fully implemented without any further delay.
- The SA Council welcomed Serbia’s participation in CSDP military missions and operations and its preparations to contribute to civilian ones. The SA Council also welcomed Serbia’s participation in the roster of the EU Battle Groups and its efforts to identify opportunities for cooperation with the European Defence Agency projects and activities. The SA Council reiterated its call on Serbia to progressively align its policies towards third countries and its positions within international organisations with the policies and positions adopted by the Union and its Member States, in the period up to accession. The current declining trend needs to be reversed as a matter of priority. The SA Council also reiterated its call on Serbia to bring to a successful conclusion the review of its 2009 National Security and Defence Strategies.
- The SA Council recalled that regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations were essential parts of the enlargement and Stabilisation and Association processes, and contribute to stability, reconciliation and a climate conducive to addressing open bilateral issues and the legacies of the past.
- The SA Council looked forward to the next steps in accession negotiations and recalled that progress on the rule of law and fundamental rights chapters, as well as on the normalisation of Serbia’s relations with Kosovo*as set out in the Negotiating Framework, is essential and will continue to determine the pace of accession negotiations overall.
- The SA Council also held an exchange of views on developments in the Western Balkans.