Following the findings of the EC progress report, the new Serbian government is expected to redouble its efforts and speed up the reforms that are crucial to Serbia’s eu accession
Serbia has failed to open a single negotiation chapter this year. The EU’s progress report notes the shortcomings on the issues of judicial reform, corruption, media freedom and in many segments of the political criteria. Coupled with the rocky normalisation process with Kosovo, the lack of progress in key areas could harm the prospects of opening at least one negotiation chapter by the end of the year. The economic situation is more encouraging, and even this year’s outlook seems stable despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its detrimental impact on economies worldwide. Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are high on Serbia’s foreign policy agenda.
As a frontrunner among the current accession candidates and the largest country in the Western Balkans, Serbia is key to the region’s stability. Serbia is actively involved in numerous regional initiatives, some of which offer real prospects of enhanced cooperation and the easing of sometimes tense political relations. The formation of a common market and the implementation of four fundamental freedoms of the European Union would significantly increase the region’s capacities to meet the demands of the EU single market in the future, and the challenge of simultaneous economic and political transition.
Even if the accession process itself seems insurmountable and unending, it is in Serbia’s best interest
Following the findings of the progress report, the new Serbian government is expected to redouble its efforts and speed up the reforms that are crucial to Serbia’s EU accession. Democratic governance anchored on stable institutions, efficient public administration and an independent judiciary able to eradicate corruption and organised crime should undoubtedly remain strategic priorities, which can only materialise if the level of motivation to pursue domestic reforms remains high in the future. Even if the accession process itself seems insurmountable and unending, it is in Serbia’s best interest to become a modernised and Europeanised state.
The prospects of membership have always been among the most important arguments giving wind to the sails of pro-European political forces. The political choice of wanting to join the EU should be met with the political will to accept new members. The “European perspective” has been on the table for almost 20 years and now risks becoming an unconvincing notion. Stronger engagement of the EU would finally bring much needed positive dynamics to the enlargement process, reduce the risks of alternative external influences and thus (re)build a resilient alliance with all Western Balkan partners.