The European Council confirms its commitment to the enlargement of the European Union, which remains one of the key strategic directions, the Council said after the meeting of the foreign ministers of the member states. It is clarified that the policy of enlargement continues to be an investment in peace, democracy, progress, security and stability of Europe.
The European Union is committed to strengthening and intensifying its presence in the region at the political, economic and level of social transformation, including the continuation of assistance, based on clear progress in the rule of law and socio economic reforms, the document says.
“The Council strongly welcomes the historic Prespa Agreement, which represents a significant achievement, setting a positive example for the region and beyond. It commends the courage and determination of the parties involved. Good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation remain essential elements of the Enlargement Process, as well as of the Stabilisation and Association Process. The Council welcomes progress made and reiterates the importance of regional cooperation, in particular of connectivity within the region and with the EU,” the statement said, and a regional agreement on roaming was signed in Belgrade in early April was cited as a positive example of connectivity.
In the part of the conclusions concerning Serbia, the Council states that progress has been made in the negotiations, that 16 of the 35 chapters have been opened, and that the two have been temporarily closed. Serbia has continued to work on aligning legislation with the European Union in a number of areas. Nevertheless, it is noted that progress in the rule of law (chapters 23 and 24) and negotiations with Pristina is crucial for the pace of membership negotiations.
“Noting that EU integration remains Serbia’s strategic goal, the Council encourages Serbian authorities to firmly commit to and promote European values, and recalls the need for the Serbian government to more actively and unambiguously communicate this in the public debate. The Council urges Serbia to particularly focus and significantly accelerate its reform efforts and to deliver concrete and tangible results in fundamental areas, with a particular focus on the rule of law, “the European Council said, stressing that progress in the efficiency of the judiciary, freedom of expression, fundamental rights, inter-party dialogue and electoral conditions.
Belgrade is expected to make efforts to create an environment in which dialogue is possible, as well as to refrain from provocations. The status quo is not sustainable, and a detailed legally binding agreement between the two sides should resolve all issues and be in line with international law and EU legislation, the statement says. The Council praised Serbia for its continued participation in regional cooperation initiatives and encourages it to strengthen good neighborly relations.