11 May 2021

EU to apply new enlargement methodology to Serbia and Montenegro

The Council of the EU agreed on Tuesday to apply its revised enlargement methodology in the accession negotiations of Serbia and Montenegro.  The new rules within the accession process aim to increase contacts at the ministerial level and promote fundamental reforms in the two countries.  Additionally, the new enlargement methodology has the goal of improving the predictability of the accession process. Furthermore, it reorganizes chapters into clusters to speed up negotiations between the states with the EU.

The decision comes after the European Commission issued a Communication in February which addressed the need to improve the accession process. The new enlargement methodology aims to make accession to the EU more credible. The EU also wants the process to be more dynamic and more politically steered. Therefore, it introduces positive and negative conditionality and reversibility within the accession process. According to the new rules, fundamental reforms are key. Special attention, therefore, will be given to the rule of law, public administration as well as the state of democratic institutions and the countries’ economies.

The revised methodology stresses that no new chapters will be closed before the interim benchmarks for Chapter 23 (Judiciary and fundamental rights) and Chapter 24 (Justice, freedom, and security) are met. Meanwhile, the rule of law chapters must now be closed last. The new rules also underline the importance of anti-corruption efforts. The importance of Intergovernmental Conferences will increase to give stronger political attention to key reforms.

What happens next as a result of the new enlargement methodology?

Serbia and Montenegro have already accepted the changes. Nevertheless, the EU and the candidate countries still have to agree on some details. Certain changes to the process will depend on the status of a candidate’s negotiations. Hence, the EU and the states will discuss the new methodology at their respective Intergovernmental Conferences.

Montenegro started its EU accession negotiations in June 2012 whereas Serbia and the EU began Belgrade’s accession talks in January 2014.


Author: Vanja Popović