9 The EU and Serbia |
+ ADDs 1-2
+ ADDs 1-2
Draft Council Decisions on the signing and on the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and its Member States and the Republic of Serbia
Draft Council Decision concerning the signing and conclusion of the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related matters between the European Community and the Republic of Serbia
Interim Political Agreement on Co-operation between the European Union and its Member States and the Republic of Serbia
(a) and (b) Articles 300 and 310 EC; unanimity
|Department||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration
||Minister's letters of 20 October and 1 November 2010
|Previous Committee Reports
||HC 428-vi (20101-11), chapter 11 (3 November 2010); also see HC 5-iii (2009-10), chapter 20 (9 December 2009); HC 19-xxvi (2008-09), chapter 21 (10 September 2009); HC 19-xxiii (2008-09), chapter 8 (8 July 2009); HC 19-ix (2008-09), chapter 11 (4 March 2009); HC 19-v (2008-09), chapter 16 (28 January 2009);HC 19-i (2008-09), chapter 17 (10 December 2008); HC16-xxiv (2007-08), chapter 15 (18 June 2008); HC16-xxi (2007-08), chapter 17 (14 May 2008); HC16-xii (2007-08), chapter 1 (20 February 2008); HC16-x (2007-08), chapter 4 (30 January 2008); and HC16-viii (2007-08), chapter 5 (16 January 2008); also see (26575) 8884/05: HC 34-i (2005-06), chapter 48 (4 July 2005); and (29103): 14999/07; (29104):15001/07; (29100):14995/07; (29099): 14993/07; (29101):14996/07; (29102):14997/07: HC 16-v (2007-08), chapter 1 (5 December 2007)
|Discussed in Council||25 October 2010 General Affairs Council
||Politically important |
|Committee's decision||Cleared (debate on 29 April 2008); further information received
9.1 The Stabilisation and Association Process was devised
by the EU to bring the countries of the Western Balkans closer
to the EU and to help prepare them for eventual membership. The
Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) is a key step on
the path to EU membership. It establishes a far-reaching legal
relationship between the EU and the country concerned, entailing
mutual rights and obligations; the gradual implementation of a
free trade area; reforms designed to achieve the adoption of EU
standards in areas such as justice, freedom and security, accompanied
by formalised political dialogue; enhanced regional co-operation;
and a Stabilisation and Association Council to supervise implementation.
9.2 The Commission completed negotiations for an SAA with
Serbia on 10 September 2007. On 7 November 2007 Serbia and the
Commission initialled the text of the Agreement.
The Council Decisions
9.3 The purpose of the first Council Decision is obtain Council
approval to the text of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement
and "to engage the procedures for the signature and final
conclusion" of the Agreement.
9.4 The purpose of the second Council Decision is to authorise
signature of an Interim Agreement (IA), comprising the Community
competence elements (trade, agriculture, industrial and competition
provisions of the SAA) at the same time as the SAA, to come into
force as soon as possible after signature, to take account of
the fact that ratification of the SAA may take up to a year following
9.5 The previous Committee's earlier consideration is detailed
in the previous Reports listed above.
In brief, the previous Committee engaged in prolonged discussion
with successive Ministers for Europe since January 2008 about
signature of these Council Decisions and, given differences then
obtaining among Member States on the signing of the Interim Agreement,
an Interim Political Agreement. In the event, they were resolved
among Member States in such a way that the 29 April 2008 GAERC
approved the Council Decisions, whereupon the two agreements were
signed. On the same day, European Committee B debated these documents
and a collection of annual progress reports on the Western Balkan
9.6 As the previous Committee noted, it had no concerns over
the nature of the SAA or of its conclusion with Serbia per
se: on the contrary; however, what had bedevilled this process
all along was the behaviour of the Serbian authorities with respect
to the International Criminal Tribunal for (former) Yugoslavia
(ICTY). Although the ICTY had been prepared to indicate to the
Commission and Council that cooperation had improved sufficiently
to warrant continued negotiation and, latterly, initialling of
a text, it was plainly not yet able to certify that "full
cooperation" obtained. The Committee's concern had thus revolved
around this associated ICTY Conditionality.
9.7 As the Committee's most recent report noted, when it came
to consider a letter of 1 November 2010 from the Minister for
Europe (Mr David Lidington), matters had by then moved on apace.
The SAA had been deposited in Parliament, in August 2010, for
ratification (the Minister hopes) during this parliamentary session.
And the 25 October 2010 General Affairs Council (GAC) had agreed
to refer Serbia's application for EU membership to the Commission
for an Avis. This was presaged in a letter of 20 October
from the Minister, and confirmed in his post-Council letter of
1 November. As well as confirming the Council's decision and enclosing
the relevant Council Conclusions,
the Minister said:
"As you will see from the Conclusions, the Council reaffirmed
the importance it attaches to Serbia sustaining full co-operation
with the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia
(ICTY). The Council agreed that before each stage of Serbia's
path towards EU accession the Council must unanimously decide
that full co-operation with the ICTY exists or continues to exist.
The Council also agreed that it would continue closely to monitor
the progress reports issued by the Office of the ICTY Chief Prosecutor.
Chief Prosecutor Brammertz' next report to the United Nations
Security Council will be in December.
"The Council also reiterated, in the context
of progress by applicants towards the European Union, that a constructive
approach to regional co-operation is essential. The Council called
in particular for progress in the process of dialogue between
Belgrade and Pristina under the facilitation of Baroness Ashton.
This dialogue was welcomed by the United Nations General Assembly,
in its resolution of 9 September 2010, as a factor for peace,
security and stability in the region. Preparations for the dialogue
9.8 The Minister anticipated that the Commission
will take approximately a year to complete Serbia's Avis,
and said that:
"It will consider, in detail, the ability of
Serbia to meet the criteria for, and assume the obligations of,
EU membership. The Avis will assess whether, in the Commission's
opinion, Serbia is ready to assume Candidate status and to begin
accession negotiations or, if not, what further reforms would
be necessary before they would be ready to begin such negotiations."
9.9 The Minister concluded his letter by noting
"The Government welcomes the decision of the
Council to refer Serbia's application, which represents an important
step forward in Serbia's relationship with the EU and the process
of conditions-based enlargement to the Western Balkans region
as a whole."
9.10 The Government's position is clear: Serbia's
co-operation with ICTY has been sustained since December and Serbia
is indeed fully co-operating with ICTY that being defined
as "committed and sustained activity demonstrating one hundred
percent effort and political will". On the key issue
the apprehension of the two most egregious fugitives, Ratko Mladic
and Goran Hadzic we felt that it might be argued that
the ICTY Chief Prosecutor seemed somewhat less convinced, viz
the concluding paragraph of his assessment:
"50. The Serbian Government must give its full
support to the operational services that have been tasked with
tracking and apprehending the fugitives. Ongoing financial, logistical
and political support is imperative. There can be no alternative
to the immediate arrest of the two remaining fugitives, Ratko
Mladic and Goran Hadzic."
9.11 For our part, we noted that the next stage
would be when the Commission Communication containing the Commission
Avis was presented for scrutiny.
9.12 In the meantime, we reported this further
information to the House because of its centrality in the enlargement
process, not just here but in the case of Croatia, in the hope
that this would allow those Members who were interested to make
up their own minds, and use the SAA ratification process and other
avenues open to them to question the Government further, should
they so wish.
The Minister's letter of 25 January 2011
9.13 The Minister begins by referring to the
October 2010 GAC Conclusions, which he says "reaffirmed the
importance it attaches to Serbia sustaining full co-operation
with the ICTY." He recalls that the GAC agreed that before
each stage of Serbia's path towards EU accession, the Council
must unanimously decide that full co-operation with the ICTY exists
or continue to exist, and that the Council agreed to monitor closely
the Chief Prosecutor's Progress Reports.
9.14 He then says that he wishes to update the
Committee in the light of The Chief Prosecutor's report to the
United Nations Security Council on 6th December, which included
an assessment of Serbia's co-operation, which he does as follows:
"Overall, the judgement of the report is the
same as his last report in June. Serbia is showing good support
to existing trials, by responding efficiently to requests from
the Office of the Prosecutor, and providing and protecting witnesses.
No requests are outstanding.
"The Prosecutor notes that Serbia must continue
in its efforts to apprehend the remaining fugitives. Serbia has
made strides in implementing the recommendations the Prosecutor
had set out in his previous report, and co-operation between the
Office of the Prosecutor and the Serbian Authorities had intensified
in the intervening six months. The Prosecutor, however, continues
to call for the political willingness and support for the Operational
Services to be translated into concrete results and for a continued,
and urgent, review of operational management of the search for
the fugitives. We support him in these calls, and continue to
encourage Serbia in their efforts to capture the remaining two
fugitives. The capture, arrest and delivery to The Hague of the
remaining fugitives should continue to be a key state objective
of the Serbian Government through ensuring full support to Serbia's
9.15 The Minister concludes his letter by saying:
"Given the similar conclusions of this December
report to Brammertz' report in June, it is our assessment that
Serbia is continuing to co-operate fully with the ICTY."
9.16 We are reporting this further information
to the House for the same reasons as when we reported on the Minister's
9.17 In so doing, we note that, in contrast
to that last occasion, the Minister has not provided the relevant
passages of Mr Brammertz report which, as we noted at the time,
suggested that the ICTY Chief Prosecutor might have been somewhat
less convinced about the wholehearted support of the Serbian authorities.
Now, the Minister says "Serbia has made strides in implementing
the recommendations the Prosecutor had set out in his previous
report, and co-operation between the Office of the Prosecutor
and the Serbian Authorities had intensified in the intervening
six months". But it is not clear whether this is his summation
of Mr Brammertz report, or whether he is quoting from it. Nor
do we have any indication of what these "strides" might
9.18 Looking at Mr Brammertz's statement
the relevant extract from which we reproduce at Annex
2 of this chapter of our Report it is plain that this
is the Minister's interpretation, and that it might be thought
to be somewhat more sanguine than Mr Brammertz's. Nowhere does
the latter refer to any "strides" in implementing his
recommendations. Instead, with regard to Mladic and Hadzic, he
says: "Serbia must bridge the gap between its stated commitment
to the arrests and the effectiveness of its operations on the
ground. Time is passing and we are not seeing results"; and
though the authorities are, he says, working
on the implementation of his recommendations, "there
is still much to be done and the progress must be faster"
and "Overall, Serbia needs to adopt a
more pro-active approach to arresting the fugitives."
9.19 We accordingly ask that, when the Minister
writes again after the next Brammertz report, he encloses the
relevant extracts, in the way that he did last November, so that
we and interested Members can form a judgment as to whether "Serbia
is continuing to co-operate fully with the ICTY."
Annex 1: 25 October 2010 General
Affairs Council Conclusions on Serbia
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"1. On 22 December 2009, President Mr Boris
Tadic presented the application of the Republic of Serbia for
membership of the European Union. The Council decided to implement
the procedure laid down in Article 49 of the Treaty on the European
Union. Accordingly, the Commission is invited to submit its opinion.
"2. Recalling the renewed consensus on enlargement
as expressed in the conclusions of the European Council of 14/15
December 2006, the Council reaffirms that the future of the Western
Balkans lies in the European Union. It reiterates that each country's
progress towards the European Union depends on its individual
efforts to comply with the Copenhagen criteria and the conditionality
of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
"3. The Council reiterates that a constructive
approach towards regional cooperation is essential. The Council
also calls for progress in the process of dialogue between Belgrade
and Pristina, under the facilitation of the EU and its High Representative
for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, welcomed in the United
Nations General Assembly resolution of 9 September 2010 as a factor
for peace, security and stability in the region.
"4. The Council recalls that Serbia's full cooperation
with ICTY is already required by the Stabilisation and Association
Agreement, as well as by the Interim Agreement. In line with the
political criteria of Copenhagen full cooperation with ICTY is
an essential condition for membership of the EU. In the context
of Serbia's application for membership of the European Union on
22 December 2009, the EU underlines that at each stage of Serbia's
path towards EU accession, following the decision referred to
in paragraph 1, further steps will be taken when the Council unanimously
decides that full co-operation with the ICTY exists or continues
to exist. In this context, the Council will closely monitor the
progress reports by the Office of the Prosecutor. The EU and its
Member States recall their readiness to assist Serbia in this
"5. The Council calls upon Serbia to implement
recommendations presented by the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor
to the United Nations Security Council in June 2010 concerning
Serbia's support in ongoing trials and appeals and Serbia's assistance
in the key matter of the arrest of the two remaining fugitives,
Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, which would be the most convincing
proof of Serbia's efforts and cooperation with the ICTY."
Annex 2: Extract from the ICTY
Chief Prosecutor's Address to the UN Security Council on 6 December
"When it comes to Serbia, co-operation in our
ongoing cases is proceeding well. Serbia is facilitating our requests
for access to documents and archives and witness related issues
are being handled satisfactorily.
"However, Serbia's failure to capture the two
Ratko Mladiæ and Goran Hadiæ
is one of our foremost concerns. Serbia must bridge the gap between
its stated commitment to the arrests and the effectiveness of
its operations on the ground. Time is passing and we are not seeing
results. In our last Completion Strategy Report, we made a number
of recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of Serbia's
efforts to capture the fugitives. In my trip to Serbia this past
November, I saw that the authorities are working on the implementation
of our recommendations. But there is still much left to be done
and the progress must be faster.
"Overall, Serbia needs to adopt a more pro-active
approach to arresting the fugitives. At the heart of this more
pro-active approach should be a comprehensive strategy that integrates
all relevant actors and covers all possible angles for exerting
positive pressure towards the arrests. For example, in addition
to the search activities, there must be a rigorous approach to
dealing with individuals or networks that support the fugitives
in their efforts to evade justice. The Serbian authorities must
clearly signal that those who harbour the fugitives will be punished.
"Serbia holds the
key to arresting Ratko Mladiæ and Goran Hadiæ.
These fugitives can be brought to justice if all relevant actors
are sufficiently committed and effectively
work together to bring it about."
24 See headnote. Back
for the record of that debate. Back
Reproduced at Annex 1 of this chapter of our Report, and available
Available at http://www.icty.org/x/file/Press/Statements%20and%20Speeches/Prosecutor/101206_proc_brammertz_un_sc_en.pdf.