The start of EU accession negotiations with Serbia and the progress made in normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo was welcomed by Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs in two resolutions passed on Thursday. They also stressed that these relations would be helped if all EU member states were to recognise Kosovo.
MEPs welcome the progress made in 2015 in normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo and call on Belgrade and Pristina to move forward with the full and timely implementation of agreements reached so far, noting that this is one of the conditions for Serbia's accession to the EU.
"Serbia has made substantial progress on its path towards the European Union. The opening of the first chapters in December was a well-deserved recognition of the progress made in the last few months, particularly in normalising relations with Kosovo. There is still a lot of work ahead of Serbia, but the country can be assured of the European Parliament's full support in their endeavour", said EP rapporteur David McAllister (EPP, DE).
The resolution on Serbia, passed by 50 votes to 2, with 4 abstentions, welcomes the opening of the EU accession negotiations. It calls on Serbia to pursue its systematic reforms, ensure that the work of judges and prosecutors as well as media is free of political influence and step up its efforts to fight corruption and organised crime.
"Today's vote again sends a strong signal that the future of an independent Kosovo lies in the European Union. MEPs have once more called for the EU to complete its official recognition of Kosovo and urged the five member states refusing to recognise Kosovo to drop their blockade", said EP rapporteur Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA, AT). "This report is, however, overshadowed by serial acts of violence inside and outside the Kosovo Assembly in recent months. It appeals to all players to act for the good of Kosovo in a responsible way, supporting a non-violent solution to, and exit from, this crisis", she added.
MEPs stress that EU-Kosovo Association Agreement, ratified by the European Parliament on 21 January, provides a powerful incentive for reform and paves the way for Kosovo’s integration into the EU. Media and judiciary independence, fighting high-level corruption and organised crime and labour market reforms are just a few areas of major concern, the resolution says.
MEPs also take note that five EU member states have yet to formally recognise Kosovo, adding that if all EU member states were to do so, this would bring more stability to the region and help to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
The resolution on Kosovo was passed by 37 votes to 12, with 9 abstentions.
The full House will vote on the two separate resolutions in Strasbourg on 4 February.