Political relations between Serbia and the EU
European integration and membership in the European Union represent the national interest and strategic commitment of the Republic of Serbia, and the European Union values are the same ones which the Republic of Serbia supports and strives to refine. The Republic of Serbia views the European Union accession process as an incentive for reformations and the strengthening of European standards. The European Union is also the most important trade and investment partner of the Republic of Serbia, and a very important factor in the economic stability of the country.
The Republic of Serbia signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union on 29 April 2008, which came into force on 1 September 2013. The Agreement confirms the perspective of the Republic of Serbia to become a member of the European Union and regulates mutual relations between the two parties until the achievement of full membership. The bodies competent for the implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement are the Stabilisation and Accession Council, the Stabilisation and Association Committee and its subcommittees, and the Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee.
The Republic of Serbia submitted its official request for European Union membership on 22 December 2009, and acquired the status of membership candidate on 1 March 2012. The decision of the European Council of 28 June 2013 to open accession negotiations launched the most demanding phase of European integration ― the membership negotiations ― which will result in the full alignment with the system, the values, and the legislation of the European Union. Timeline of the accession negotiations
The start of negotiations between the Republic of Serbia and the European Union was marked by the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on 21 January 2014. The meeting served to present the Negotiating Framework of the European Union, which contained principles, guidelines, and procedures for holding accession negotiations. The focus of the negotiations is on the conditions under which a candidate country will adopt, implement and enforce the EU acquis Communautaire, divided into 35 thematic chapters or six clusters according to the new methodology.
The Government of the Republic of Serbia formed the necessary bodies to coordinate the European Union accession process, i.e. the Coordination Body for the European Union Accession Process and the Council of the Coordination Body as well as the Negotiating Team of the Republic of Serbia. Following the division of the negotiation process into 35 chapters, a negotiating group was formed for each chapter. An important step in the institutional strengthening of the process of negotiations with the European Union was made in 2017, with the forming of the Ministry of European Integration. In addition to state institutions of the Republic of Serbia and its representatives, the process of European Union accession includes representatives of the civil society, primarily through the National Convention on the European Union.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the authoritative body for the activities of the Negotiating Group for Chapter 31 (foreign, security and defence policy). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also involved in the work of the Negotiating Groups for chapters 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights), 24 (justice, freedom and security), and 30 (external relations).
In the course of the negotiation process between the Republic of Serbia and the European Union, a total of eleven intergovernmental conferences have been held where eighteen negotiation chapters were opened, two of which have been provisionally closed.
Intergovernmental conferences on the accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union
- First, on 21 January 2014 ― presenting the Negotiation Framework of the European Union and Opening Statement by the Republic of Serbia
- Second, on 14 December 2015 ― opening of chapters 32 (financial control) and 35 (other issues)
- Third, on 18 July 2016 ― opening of chapters 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights) and 24 (justice, freedom and security)
- Fourth, on 13 December 2016 ― opening of chapters 5 (public procurement) and 25 (science and research)
- Fifth, on 27 February 2017 ― opening of chapters 20 (enterprise and industrial policy) and 26 (education and culture)
- Sixth, on 20 June 2017 ― opening of chapters 7 (intellectual property law) and 29 (customs union)
- Seventh, on 11 December 2017 ― opening of chapters 6 (company law) and 30 (external relations)
- Eighth, on 25 June 2018 ― opening of chapters 13 (fisheries) and 33 (financial and budgetary provisions)
- Ninth, on 10 December 2018 ― opening of chapters 17 (economic and monetary policy) and 18 (statistics)
- Tenth, on 27 June 2019 ― opening of chapter 9 (financial services)
- Eleventh, on 10 December 2019 ― opening of chapter 4 (free movement of capital).