Lawmakers will urge EU to freeze accession talks with Belgrade, unless it toes the line, says report

The European Parliament may ask the EU to freeze accession talks with Serbia and Belgrade’s funding over its ties to Moscow, US state broadcaster RFE/RL reported.

Earlier, a group of MEPs stated that a country that does not sanction Russia cannot aspire to join the bloc.

“The EU cannot continue accession talks with Serbia if they do not align with the EU sanctions against Russia. That is what we will say in Parliament’s next enlargement report,” the Group of Socialists and Democrats (S&D Group) tweeted on Monday, after Belgrade and Moscow signed a plan of bilateral consultations for the next two years.

The statement referred to a draft report on the EU’s enlargement strategy, the details of which were made public by RFE/RL on Wednesday. The station, which reviewed the document, said it includes text calling on the EU to punish Serbia for not following Brussels in its relations with Russia.

In addition to freezing talks about joining the EU, MEPs want to recommend cutting Belgrade from EU funding for Balkan development, according to the article. Brussels needs to spend money “fully in line with the EU’s own strategic goals and interests”, the draft was quoted by RFE/RL as saying.

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula is the lead author of the draft report. He is a member of the S&D Group, which is part of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and is in favor of accelerating the expansion of the EU, including in Moldova and Ukraine. He called Serbia’s relations with Russia “very disappointing coming from a country that aspires to join the EU”.

The commission will analyze the draft report on October 13, after which it will be presented to parliament for approval in a non-binding resolution, RFE/RL said. The vote is expected in November.

The diplomatic timetable that Serbia and Russia signed last Friday triggered a wave of condemnation from US and EU officials. Peter Stano, the European Commission’s foreign affairs spokesman, warned that he raised “serious questions” to Belgrade and would be investigated.

German MEP Viola von Cramon called it “a serious scandal” that indicates that the EU should suspend accession talks.

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