Serbia still does not have full consent from six European Union member states for opening negotiation chapter 23, including Croatia because of its earlier objections and conditions, and Great Britain, which has still not taken a position for technical reasons due to Brexit, electronic media in Belgrade said on Monday.
According to earlier announcements, Serbia is expected to open chapters 23 and 24, which pertain to the judiciary and the rule of law, by the end of this month, but it still needs the consent of six member states before a meeting of the Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the EU (COELA), Serbian Radio-Television (RTS) said.
Citing diplomatic sources, Tanjug news agency said the Netherlands, whose EU chairmanship ends on June 30, was expected to complete the consensus.
According to sources from the Dutch EU presidency, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Croatia and Great Britain have said they will give their consent for a draft negotiating position on Chapter 23, while one member state has a substantial problem and another a technical one, Tanjug said.
COELA has not received London's consent due to technical reasons pertaining to Great Britain's referendum to leave the EU. Zagreb's official position is awaiting verification.
Diplomatic sources in Brussels expected the declaration on the advancement of relations and solving of outstanding issues, signed by the president of Croatia and the prime minister of Serbia, to contribute to a swifter consent from Zagreb to the opening of Chapter 23, but this has not happened, Tanjug said.
Sources close to the European Council say it is not clear how Great Britain will act from now on regarding technical decisions in EU enlargement processes.
Although technical conditions exist for holding an intergovernmental conference and for Serbia to open chapters 5, 23 and 24 by June 30, when the Dutch EU presidency ends, if this does not happen, the next EU president, Slovakia, has announced earlier that opening new chapters with Serbia will be one of its priorities in the EU enlargement policy, the RTS said.