Fifth meeting of the Accession Conference with Serbia at ministerial level
The fifth meeting of the Accession Conference with Serbia at ministerial level was held today in Brussels to open negotiations on chapter 20 - Enterprise and industrial policy, and to open and provisionally close chapter 26 - Education and culture.
The European Union delegation was led by Mr Louis Grech, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto of the Republic of Malta, on behalf of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The European Commission was represented by Mr Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. The Serbian delegation was led by Ms Jadranka Joksimović, Minister without portfolio responsible for European integration.
Following today's Conference, Serbia will have opened 8 chapters out of a total of 35 negotiation chapters of which 2 chapters have already been provisionally closed. Further Accession Conferences will be planned, as appropriate, in order to take the process forward. The accession negotiations were launched in January 2014.
Regarding the chapters on the agenda, the Union has closely examined Serbia's present state of preparations.
Chapter 20 - Enterprise and industrial policy
On the understanding that Serbia has to continue to make progress in the alignment with and implementation of the acquis in Chapter 20 - Enterprise and industrial policy, the EU noted that there is one benchmark that needs to be met for provisional closure of this chapter. The benchmark is as follows:
Chapter 26 - Education and culture
Regarding negotiations on chapter 26 - Education and culture, the EU considered that, exceptionally, benchmarks for the provisional closure of this chapter were not required, given the general good level of Serbia's state of preparedness in the area of Education and culture, and the limited scope and particular nature of acquis obligations in this chapter. The EU therefore noted that, at this stage, this chapter does not require further negotiations.
For both chapters on the agenda, monitoring of progress in the alignment with and implementation of the acquis will continue throughout the negotiations. The EU underlined that it would devote particular attention to monitoring all specific issues mentioned in its common positions. The EU will, if necessary, return to these chapters at an appropriate moment.
Belarus: EU prolongs arms embargo and sanctions against 4 individuals for one year
On 27 February 2017, the Council decided to prolong the restrictive measures against Belarus for one year, until 28 February 2018. These measures include an arms embargo and an asset freeze and a travel ban against four people listed in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and in 2000. The Council also introduced an exemption to the restrictive measures to allow export of biathlon equipment to Belarus, which will remain subject to prior authorisation by national competent authorities on a case by case basis.
Tangible steps taken by Belarus to respect universal fundamental freedoms, rule of law and human rights will remain key for the shaping of the EU's future policy towards Belarus, as stated in Council conclusions of 15 February 2016.