EU "launches" a new plan for Serbia: Forget membership?
Brussels is likely to "serve" new negotiating rules on accession to Serbia and other countries in the region seeking EU membership, "Novosti" reportsSource: Tanjug
That should happen at the next EU Western Balkans summit in May 2020, highlights the paper and adds that there are more models at stake, each heading towards offering a privileged partnership to candidate countries instead of enlargement, more precisely, economic integration without formal membership.
The new negotiating methodology, according to the paper, is largely being discussed directly between the two most influential EU countries, France and Germany, while the broadest circles of these agreements include, above all, the most hard-working countries when it comes to the accession of new states - the Netherlands and Denmark.
The agreement, the newspaper added, is expected to be reached within the next six months and adopted at the European Council in March next year.
One idea is to introduce the so-called sectoral integration into the EU, that is, after the closure of each chapter, the state virtually fully enters the EU system in the relevant field, rather than waiting, as before, to become a full member.
For example, "Novosti" explains, when it completes negotiations in the field of transport, traffic or ecology, the candidate country would immediately have access to all EU funds, like any other member state.
"Norwegian model" is also on the table, according to which, instead of EU membership, Serbia and other countries of the region would be offered membership in two key European institutions - the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA), whose members are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are not EU members, the newspaper finds out.
Brussels diplomats argue that France insists that the new accession rules be changed not only for the countries that have yet to start negotiations, namely North Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also for Serbia and Montenegro, which have been moving forward in the process.
There are also those who believe that the EU would act contrary to its main principles and values if they change the rules for Belgrade and Podgorica in the midst of the race to membership, but Serbia and Montenegro are more likely to be covered by the new methodology, "Novosti" concludes.