The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council decided in Luxembourg today (29 April) to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Union and Serbia. The signing is to take place in Luxembourg before the end of the day. President Tadić will sign the Agreement on behalf of Serbia.
Today in Berlin, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed this important step which will bring Serbia closer to the EU:
"Today's signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement demonstrates once more the European Union's conviction that Serbia's future lies in Europe.
Even after this first major step towards EU integration, Serbia still has key challenges to master. One of these will be coming to grips with the past – by cooperating fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. But today we stated unequivocally that the EU and Germany will assist Serbia as partners as it pursues this course.
In just a few days' time, voters in Serbia will have to decide on the future political direction of their country. I hope that, as was the case at the presidential elections in early February, they will opt for a common future in Europe."
The SAA is the first contractual link between the EU and Serbia and will bring Serbia gradually closer to EU standards. In addition to enhanced cooperation in various spheres, for example justice and home affairs or transport, one of the main objectives is to eliminate trade barriers. The aim is to create a free trade area. However, the ratification process for this SAA will not begin until the EU Council has established that Serbia is cooperating fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.