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EU Chides Serbia, Kosovo For Limited Progress On Reforms Needed For Membership

In its annual report on progress made by candidate countries toward membership of the European Union, the bloc’s executive said Serbia and Kosovo registered only limited headway on fulfilling membership criteria, according to a copy of the report obtained by RFE/RL’s Balkan Service.

The report by the European Commission says Serbia has made only limited progress in the rule-of-law reform, a crucial chapter in advancing EU membership talks.

The report also highlights Belgrade’s failure to implement past agreements on its dialogue with Kosovo, with the commission urging both Kosovo and Serbia to begin implementing their obligations under such agreements, emphasizing that these are vital for their European Union path.

The document also mentions Serbia’s refusal to introduce sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Regarding migration, the report indicates that nationals from countries with visa-free travel agreements with Serbia are using Serbian territory to illegally enter the EU space.

Serbia has also made only limited progress on the freedom of expression, the commission says, highlighting continued cases of threats, intimidation, hate speech, and violence against journalists that continue to pose a significant concern.

In the chapter dedicated to Kosovo, the report says that the rule-of-law remains, as in Serbia’s case, an area where only limited advances were made, and highlights the modest progress recorded in the fight against corruption and organized crime, as well as the independence of the judiciary.

Like Serbia, Kosovo has also failed to fully implement past agreements on advancing bilateral dialogue — a vital component of the progress on the path toward eventual EU membership.

The draft report seen by RFE/RL confirms that citizens of Kosovo will enjoy visa-free travel to the 27-member bloc as of January 1.

It acknowledges that the government has fulfilled all requirements regarding the freedom of movement. However, it stresses the need for Kosovo to align its visa policy with the EU, pointing out that more than 20 countries that require visas to enter the bloc do not need visas to travel to Kosovo.

Regarding freedom of speech, the report states that Kosovo, like Serbia, has made only limited progress over the past year and raises concern over physical attacks and threats on journalists, public smear campaigns, and hate speech directed against media workers.

It voices particular concern over the situation in ethnic Serb-majority northern Kosovo, including issues such as self-censorship and the security of journalists and media professionals.

Source : RFERL