EU accession negotiations with Serbia

Following the SAA’s entry into force, Serbia initiated EU accession negotiations. Serbia applied for membership on 22 December 2009. Based on EC recommendation and opinion of 12 October 2011, the European Council granted the candidate status to Serbia on 1 March 2012. 

Negotiations formally began on 21 January 2014 at the first EU-Serbian Intergovernmental Accession Conference, based on the European Council decision of 28 June 2013. After formal opening of negotiations, started the phase of analytical screening and assessment of the alignment of Serbian regulations with the EU acquis, which lasted until 24 March 2015 (for 34 out of 35 negotiation areas (Chapter 35 - Other issues)). 

EU accession negotiations with Serbia
22 December 2009 1 March 2012 28 June 2013 21 January 2014
Membership application The decision of the European Council to grant the candidate status based on EC recommendation and opinion of 12 October 2011 The decision of the European Council to open accession negotiations First EU-Serbia Intergovernmental  Accession Conference - formal beginning of negotiations

The first Intergovernmental Conference was preceded by the adoption of EU Negotiating Framework for RS by the Council of the EU which defined the principles, scope and structure of accession negotiations, making use of the experience gained in previous EU accession rounds. Negotiations take place in Intergovernmental Conference meetings between EU member states, as one party, and Serbia, as the other party (ministerial level).

EU accession negotiations with Serbia as the last and the most significant phase in Serbia’s European integration, are not negotiations in the real sense of the word, as only the conditions under which Serbia will accept the rights and obligations on which the EU is based as well as its acquis are defined. Namely, the acquis is not negotiated (EU accession candidate is obliged to take over the entire acquis communautaire as it is). What is negotiated are the conditions, pace and how the domestic framework will be adjusted to the EU legal framework. Adapting to the EU economic, institutional, and social system means timely, effective, and efficient application of the aligned legal framework. For the purposes of negotiations, the acquis has been divided into 35 chapters, each covering a specific EU policy area.

In addition, a country must also fulfil conditions imposed on all candidates, based on the European Council’s conclusions adopted in the Copenhagen meeting in 1993. These conclusions, known as the Copenhagen criteria, include the following:

  • the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, rule of law, the respect for human rights and protection of minorities;
  • the existence of a functioning market economy, as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the EU;
  • the ability to take on the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of the political, economic, and monetary union, and administrative capacity to effectively implement the acquis.

The progress made in meeting the Copenhagen criteria is assessed by the European Commission every year in its Annual Progress Reports.

Additionally, since 2021 the EU negotiations with Serbia are conducted in line with the new EU enlargement methodology which implies an improved pace and predictability of the process, a stronger focus on fundamental reforms, as well as more intensive political steering.

During the 12 Intergovernmental Accession Conference meetings held so far, Serbia opened 18 and provisionally closed two chapters.

14 December 2015 11 December 2017 25 June 2018 10 December 2018 27 June 2019 10 december 2019
Chapter 32 – Financial control Chapter 6 – Company law Chapter 33 – Financial and budgetary provisions Chapter 17 – Economic and monetary policy
Chapter 18 – Statistics
Chapter 9 – Financial services Chapter 4 – Free movement of capital

Ahead of the NBS also lie activities aimed at meeting the Maastricht criteria, as the condition for all potential EU members wishing to join the European Monetary Union.

The Maastricht criteria were set in the Maastricht Treaty based on the comprehensive macroeconomic analysis of the eurozone. The fulfilment of those criteria is the precondition for EU members wishing to become a part of the single monetary area with the common currency - the euro.

It is considered that the fulfilment of convergence criteria and permanent maintenance of macroeconomic parameters at defined levels are the basic preconditions for the lasting stability and balanced economic development within the euro area. All potential euro area members, except those already in the single currency bloc who have already achieved the criteria, must meet these criteria.

Convergence criteria:

  1. Price stability,e. sustainable growth in prices and average inflation rate not more than 1.5 pp above the average inflation of the three best-performing member states. Inflation is measured based on the comparable consumer price index;
  2. Long term-interest rate - average nominal long-term interest rate must not be more than 2 pp above the average for the three best-performing member states. Benchmarks for interest rate setting are interest rates on long-term government bonds or other comparable securities;
  3. Budget deficit criterion envisages that planned or actual government deficit must not exceed 3% of GDP;
  4. Public debt criterion envisages that public debt must not exceed 60% of GDP;
  5. Exchange rate stability and participation in the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II) - this criterion refers to adherence to the set margins for exchange rate fluctuations, without significant deviations in the period of at least two years before the introduction of the single European currency.