Vucic Expects Serbia’s Negotiations to End in 2024, Join EU by ’26

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND- Aleksandar Vucic Photo: Moritz Hager WEF

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated on Friday that he expects the negotiation on Serbia’s membership in the EU to be concluded by the end of the term in office of the new Government and that it is realistic for Serbia to become a member by 2026, agencies reported.

“I won’t go into details, but I am pleased with all the details that we went over in the talks, convinced that we are entering with optimism a new phase of relations between the EU and Serbia,” Vucic pointed out after a meeting in Brussels with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi.

Vucic, who also met with European Council President Charles Michel, said that he “thinks that there is a good climate in the EU to consider Serbia’s accelerated progress and at the same time greater desire on our part and the changed situation to accelerate our European path.”

He conveyed that the topics included infrastructural linking within the region, as well as the funds that Serbia had the right to in the near future from two so-called EU “pockets”.

“One is the IPA Funds, and that is no small sum. The second is guarantee schemes, i.e. guarantees, which is also a large sum,” Vucic explained.

What Vucic did not mention at all to Serbian media reporters in Brussels, but what was reported on Friday by the Serbian Broadcast Corporation (RTS), was the confirmation that no consensus was reached within the EU about opening negotiations Chapter 2 (freedom of movement for workers), even though it had previously been expected that it would be opened before the summer break.

Citing diplomatic sources, the RTS correspondent from Brussels said that the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Bulgaria did not consent to the opening of Chapter 2 “citing shortcomings and delays in the reform of rule of law and the recent report by the European Commission on this area.”

“Seven member states remained resolute, however, in their position that Serbia’s progress in key areas of rule of law has for some time been insufficient to allow for a positive decision on opening the chapter,” RTS reported.

This decision means that for the first time since the beginning of the accession negotiations Serbia will not be opening a single negotiations chapter during a six-month EU presidency, the report stated.

In the previous course of the negotiations, which started in January 2014, Serbia has opened 18 of the 35 chapters. Last year two chapters were opened, the last time in December 19 – Chapter 4 (free movement of capital).