MEPs on Thursday hailed the progress made by Serbia and Kosovo in 2013 on their path to the EU, in particular their historic agreement reached in April. They called for more transparency in communicating its outcome and for civil societies and parliaments to be involved in its implementation.
MEPs also welcomed the European Council decision to launch accession talks with Serbia and the start of negotiations with Kosovo on the stabilisation and association agreement.
"Serbia has turned from a regional maverick into an integration leader. By signing the April agreement it opened the way to the full normalization of relations with Kosovo. Belgrade has been proactively fighting corruption. I look forward to the first EU-Serbia Intergovernmental conference, which will mark the opening of accession talks," said Jelko Kacin (ALDE, SI), the rapporteur for Serbia.
MEPs say the intergovernmental conference on 21 January, which will formally launch the accession negotiations, is a historic step and demonstrates the EU's commitment to Serbia's accession. Serbia should keep up with the reforms which are the key indicator of a successful integration process and meet Serbian citizens' expectations for a smooth accession, MEPs stress. They also appreciate Serbia’s constructive approach to relations with its neighbours.
The resolution was passed by 528 votes to 43, with 51 abstentions.
"The huge majority in favour of my report sends a strong signal that the future of independent Kosovo lies in its integration into the EU. My report urges the remaining five EU countries to recognize Kosovo without delay. The positive impact of the EU on Kosovo is repeatedly weakened by this disagreement within the EU," said Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA, AT), the rapporteur for Kosovo.
The first ever country-wide local elections, held in November and December last year, were a huge step forward for democracy in Kosovo, MEPs say. They also stress that the April agreement between Serbia and Kosovo reinforces the responsibility of both parties to bring forward the reforms needed on the path of EU integration. Any transfer of responsibilities from EULEX, the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo, must be gradual and based on real progress and should involve Kosovar civil society, MEPs add.
The resolution was passed by 485 votes to 94, with 40 abstentions.