The European Commission has put forward to the Council a mandate for negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). The agreement’s main goal is to promote economic and trade relations, with the perspective of establishing free trade areas and also to regulate the movement of workers, freedom of establishment, supply of services and movement of capital.
The Commission adopted a Feasibility Study on 12 April 2005 which assessed that Serbia and Montenegro is ready to negotiate a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Following the Council’s acceptance of this recommendation on 25 April 2005, the Commission has adopted a draft negotiating mandate and put it forward to the Council for approval.
The aim of the negotiations is to conclude the first comprehensive agreement between the EU and Serbia and Montenegro. This preferential agreement will provide for wide-ranging co-operation to foster the integration of the country into EU programmes and structures.
The proposed negotiating directives include the establishment of a formalised framework for political dialogue with Serbia and Montenegro, both at bilateral and regional level. The agreement’s main goal is to promote economic and trade relations, with the perspective of establishing WTO-compatible free trade areas after a transitional period. The agreement will also regulate the movement of workers, freedom of establishment, supply of services and movement of capital. It will include a commitment by Serbia and Montenegro to progressive harmonisation of its legislation with that of the EC (notably in key areas of the internal market). It will also provide a basis for co-operation in other fields.
Once the Council has approved the mandate, the Commission will open SAA negotiations as soon as possible. However, the progress of Serbia and Montenegro in the negotiations will depend on how quickly the country is able to build the capacity to implement the provisions of the agreement. Moreover, the negotiations can be suspended if Serbia and Montenegro’s progress towards fulfilling key conditions stalls – most notably progress towards achieving full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.
The Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) is the EU’s policy for the countries of the Western Balkans region. The Stabilisation and Association Agreement is the final stage of that policy, creating a contractual relationship between a country and the European Union. The Feasibility Study is an evaluation report that establishes whether a country is able to negotiate an SAA. The SAP is accompanied by a generous financial assistance programme, called Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS).
The EU has already signed Stabilisation and Association Agreements with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Croatia, and is currently negotiating an SAA with Albania.
For further information on EU relations:
The Feasibility Report:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/docs/index.htm#feasibility_report IP/05/421  http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/gena/84782.pdf