The European Union's Commissioner for Enlargement, Hungary’s Olivér Várhelyi, met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Thursday, where the two discussed the revised, stricter methodology for EU accession negotiations, N1 reported on Thursday.
Changing the methodology was France’s condition to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, after it had blocked the launch of talks with the two countries in October last year in spite of the EC’s assessment that both had done the necessary work to reach this stage.
While the majority of EU member countries called this move a “historic mistake”, France was adamant that the bloc should revise the process, also saying that neither North Macedonia nor Albania had done enough to combat corruption.
Várhelyi said that the new European Commission, whose five-year term began in 2019, saw enlargement to Western Balkans as its main priority, adding that, with this new methodology, the bloc wanted to refresh the process and give it clear directions.
“It is for good reason that I am here very early in the mandate… because I want to reinforce our connections with the countries in the Balkans, especially those that are already negotiating for accession, because there is progress there, and I want to accelerate their progress,” Várhelyi said.
Serbia opened accession negotiations with the EU in 2014, and has so far opened 18, and closed two of the 34 chapters in the process.
“I want to work together with Serbia to achieve that, at the end of this term, I would like to have at least one country from this region to be ready for accession,” Várhelyi said.
Serbian President Vucic said the country would look into the new methodology and decide what to do in the next period.
“As the country which, along with Montenegro, has made the most progress in the accession negotiations, Serbia can choose whether the follow the existing negotiating framework or to sign up to the new one,” Vucic said, adding he personally preferred the latter.