The EU Council of Ministers could soon unblock the Interim Trade Agreement with Serbia, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn says.
“The authorities in Serbia continue to work hard on achieving the necessary reforms. At the same time, Serbia is unilaterally applying the interim trade agreement too, despite the economic situation,” Rehn was quoted by broadcaster B92 as saying on Thursday.
Speaking at a session of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels, Rehn said that Serbia must be rewarded for its efforts.
The Interim Trade Agreement – part of the wider Stabilisation and Association Agreement signed by Serbia and the EU in 2008 – was suspended by Dutch veto, in lieu of the capture of indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic, the wartime head of the Bosnian Serb military.
Since the start of the year, Serbia has pushed on unilaterally with the implementation of the trade agreement, with Serbian officials arguing that this signals their country’s commitment to EU integration.
The pact calls for the reduction of customs duties on EU products and gradual establishment of free trade with the bloc in industrial and agricultural products, over the next six years.
Serbia is not expected to gain entry to the EU before 2012, but, with Macedonia and Montenegro, is expected to garner visa-free travel to EU states for its citizens early next year.