Serbia Acts to Meet EU’s Expected Criticism

In an attempt to rectify the EU’s expected negative assessment of its progress, Serbia is hurrying to address outstanding issues concerning the judiciary, education and Kosovo.Serbia’s new government is busy adopting last-minute reforms, in an attempt to impress EU officials compiling a progress report before its final version is released.

The progress report, due in October, will review Serbia’s compliance with EU membership criteria.

Serbia obtained EU candidate status in March 2012. But obtaining a start date for negotiations is bigger step, requiring consistent implementation of reforms and control of their implementation.

On Monday, Belgrade told the European Commission that it was ready to implement an important deal with Kosovo on joint control of the border.

Belgrade and Pristina reached the agreement on management of the border crossings in Brussels on December 2. The issue remains controversial in Serbia, which does not recognise Kosovo’s independence.

The deal formed part of the EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina talks, which started in March 2011, but Serbia has not implemented the border agreement since then.

Meanwhile, the education committee of parliament has adopted changes to the law on higher education, meaning that students will have fewer exam periods (four instead of six) and a different points system for enrollment.

Besides wanting to see educational reforms, EU officials have told Balkan Insight that the draft report also criticizes the pace of judicial reform in Serbia.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic travelled to Brussels and met EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and the European Parliament rapporteur for Serbia, Jelko Kacin, to discuss such reforms.

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