The Council agreed on the implementation of the revised enlargement methodology in the accession negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia, after both candidate countries expressed their acceptance of the new methodology. The changes will be decided within the existing framework of negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia during the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conferences.
The European Union and its Member States have consistently expressed their clear support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans. This determined merit-based perspective of full EU membership for the Western Balkans is in the interests of the European Union itself, political and security.
“A credible prospect of accession is a key driver of transformation in the region and of increasing opportunities for our collective security and prosperity. It is a key tool for promoting democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, which are also key drivers of economic development, social integration and essential anchors for promoting regional reconciliation and stability. “Maintaining and enhancing this policy is essential for the EU’s credibility, for the EU’s success and for the EU’s influence in the region and beyond,” said Ana Paula Zacarias, Portugal’s Secretary of State for European Affairs.
Improving the accession process of Montenegro and Serbia focuses on the following elements:
A stronger focus on fundamental reforms: it is essential and also in the interest of the candidate countries themselves that they continue to meet the reform commitments and produce tangible results in their implementation. This is the key to realizing their European perspective. This requires a stronger focus throughout the accession process on the rule of law, fundamental rights, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration reform, as well as on economic criteria.
A stronger political direction: a key element in improving the enlargement process, regular Intergovernmental Conferences at ministerial level, together with the Stabilization and Association Councils, will strengthen dialogue with candidate countries and help focus efforts on key reforms that should allow for further progress.
An added dynamism: a grouping of negotiating chapters should help candidate countries accelerate their preparations by fertilizing efforts across individual chapters and establishing a stronger focus on key sectors and more important and urgent reforms. It should also help identify accelerated integration measures.
Improving i predictability of the process, based on objective criteria and rigorous positive and negative conditioning.
On 25 March 2020, the Council adopted the Commission Communication on ‘Improving the Accession Process – A Credible EU Perspective for the Western Balkans’ of 5 February 2020, with the aim of reviving the accession process by making it more predictable, more credible, more dynamic and subject to stronger political direction. The new process is based on objective criteria, rigorous positive and negative and reversible conditioning. Its credibility is strengthened through an even stronger focus on fundamental reforms, starting with the rule of law, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration, and the economies of candidate countries.
Montenegro’s accession negotiations began in June 2012, when the negotiating framework with Montenegro was presented at the first meeting of the accession conference at the ministerial level, on 29 June 2012.
Serbia’s accession negotiations began in January 2014, when the framework of negotiations with Serbia was presented at the first meeting of the accession conference at the ministerial level, on January 21, 2014.
Elements of the revised enlargement methodology will be presented to each of the two candidate countries at the next meeting of the relevant intergovernmental accession conference at ministerial level.