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Politics

EU Serbia Report Highlights Kosovo, Rule of Law

New EU progress report says Serbia is advancing towards EU integration, but needs to focus on judicial reforms, implementing agreements with Kosovo and aliging it foreign policy with that of Europe.

Marija Ristic
BIRN

Belgrade

After adopting a significant number of laws requested by the EU, Serbia needs to focus now on the rule of law, the new European Commission progress report, which will be made public on Wednesday, will say.

The report will say that a major challenge for the country remains the implementation of laws that it already adopted.

Serbia is also struggling with reforms to the justice system. Problem areas are political influence on the justice system, the capacities of judges and prosecutors and a big backlog of cases.

Another major issue is the EU-led dialogue with Kosovo and Belgrade’s failure to implement existing deals with its former province.

The report will underline the need for the “normalisation” of relations with Kosovo, whose independence Serbia does not recognise, through new negotiations, and through working groups that need to ensure that everything agreed already is being implemented.

Another area of concern to Brussels is foreign policy, and aligning policy with the EU. The report will note that Serbia has not complied with EU policy towards Russia, and with Western sanctions imposed on Russia in connection to the Ukrainian conflict.

Defying EU pressure to impose sanctions on Russia, Serbia has said it will never turn its back on its long-time ally and has adopted what it calls a neutral stance on the crisis in Ukraine.

The progress report will also deal with recent developments in the media, including the announced, or actual, closure of prominent TV shows and websites.

It will say that although Serbia has adopted important laws on the media, safeguarding its independence, indications of political influence on the media remain. The level of transparency of media ownership is still considered poor.

The European Council opened accession negotiations with Serbia in June 2013, while the Council adopted a negotiating framework with the country in December. Serbia is expected to open its first negotiating chapter in the coming months.

source

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