Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  I am writing to advise of the European Commission's proposed course of action with regards to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) negotiating mandates for Serbia and Montenegro following the dissolution of the State Union of the two republics.

  You will recall that my predecessor, Mr Alexander, wrote to you on the 14 October 2005,[72] informing you that the Council had authorised the Commission to begin SAA negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro (SaM) on 3 October. You will also recall that on 10 June 2005 an Explanatory Memorandum was deposited on a Commission Communication on the preparedness of SaM to negotiate a SAA with the EU. This was cleared by the scrutiny committees in both Houses.

  On 21 May 2006, in a referendum assessed as free and fair by the international community, the Republic of Montenegro voted for independence from SaM. Independence was formally declared on 3 June and the UK recognised Montenegro as an independent sovereign state on 13 June. On 5 June, the National Assembly in Belgrade declared the Republic of Serbia to be the continuing international personality of SaM. This was in accordance with the SaM Constitutional Charter and is a position which the EU and UK accept.

  The European Commission now proposes to amend the SaM SAA negotiating mandate in order to continue negotiations with Serbia. This is a technical process, which involves replacing references to SaM with references to Serbia and removing references to Montenegro. In its proposal, the Commission also makes clear that this revision does not affect EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn's decision to freeze the SAA negotiations. In other words Serbia still needs to demonstrate that it is co-operating fully with the ICTY before its SAA negotiations can actually resume.

  The European Commission is also proposing a new separate negotiating mandate for Montenegro. The European Commission is proposing the same text for Montenegro's SAA as was used in the SaM SAA, including all the same conditions, such as the requirement to co-operate fully with the ICTY. In order not to have to start negotiations from scratch the European Commission is also proposing to include information on the progress that Montenegro made in its SAA negotiations as part of SaM.

  Officials would be happy to provide electronic copies of the European Commission's proposals and copies of the draft SAA mandates for Serbia and Montenegro. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if this would be helpful.

13 July 2006

72   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 305. Back

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