BRUSSELS – Serbia has made a historic progress in the EU integration process this year but it is yet to face serious challenges in the areas of economy and the rule of law, reads the European Commission’s (EC) annual report on progress which was officially presented in Brussels on Wednesday.
This was a historic year for Serbia’s EU pathway, read the conclusions of the EC report which were presented by Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on Wednesday.
The EC says that as a result of progress in a number of areas Serbia has entered a new phase in the relations with the EU.
As for the relations with Kosovo, the EC says that a visible and sustainable progress has been made, while the implementation of the Brussels agreement has already yielded numerous irreversible effects in the field.
It is particularly important for Serbia to continue to encourage Serbs in Kosovo to go to the polls in the greatest possible number at the local elections scheduled for November 3, read the conclusions.
The EC underlines that it is important that both sides have agreed not to hinder one another on the EU integration pathway.
Moreover, the EC says that Serbia has established full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
In keeping with the progress that has been achieved, the Commission believes that Serbia has fulfilled sufficiently the political conditions for the start of the accession talks, and it expects the European Council to draft and adopt the negotiating platform as soon as possible so that the first intergovernmental conference could start in January 2014 at the latest.
In this new, demanding phase of the relations with the EU, Serbia will have to intensify its efforts so that it could fulfill the membership criteria, the report reads.
The EC says that in the coming period it expects concrete results in the processing of cases of corruption and organized crime, and Serbia to adopt a legal framework for the protection of whistleblowers.
When it comes to minority rights, the Commission says that there is a good legal framework, but that additional effort should be made on the improvement of the position of the Roma people.
The EC sees the Belgrade Pride Parade ban as discrimination of the LGBT population, adding that this type of discrimination is still widespread and the authorities are not making enough efforts to fight it.
The EC says that in future Serbia will have to pay much more attention to the independence of institutions, particularly the legal ones, and urges that greater attention should be paid to the freedom of the media and the implementation of the media strategy.
The EC report reads that Serbia has made certain progress in the establishment of functional market economy and fiscal consolidation, but adds that the economy is still in a difficult situation due to belatedness in structural reforms and excessive public spending and that the government has to make additional efforts in this direction.