In a Wednesday, 19 January, vote, members of the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg voted in favor of ratifying Serbia’s Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Serbia and the European Union. Voting in favor were 612 MEPs, with 38 voting against. The SAA is the first step for Western Balkan countries to joining the bloc.
In a separate measure, European parliamentarians also adopted a resolution calling on Serbia to step up efforts on judicial reform, the fight against corruption and cooperation with the Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). They also urged Serbia to ensure that planned talks with Kosovo’s authorities will be successful.
Authorities in Serbia are pleased with the result of the 19 January MEP session, which shows increasing support for Serbia’s EU bid.
A recent survey purportedly shows that due largely to the ongoing economic crisis in Serbia, popular support for Serbia’s EU membership has dropped to some 57%.
Serbian officials are working hard to convince the public of the benefits of joining the EU. Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said that EU candidate status for Serbia would mean an increase in EU financial support by 30% or approximately ’70 million per year.