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Brussels, 6 July 2006

Commission recommends continuing separate Stabilisation and Association Agreement negotiations with Montenegro and with Serbia

Following Montenegro's independence, the European Commission has recommended to the Council to continue separate Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) negotiations, on the basis of the results achieved so far. The Commission has submitted for adoption by the Council new draft negotiating directives for the newly independent Montenegro and, as the successor state of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, amended negotiating directives for Serbia.

Montenegro decided on 3 June 2006 to withdraw from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and to become an independent state. The framework for the negotiations needs to be adapted to the new situation. The Commission recommends that it continues the negotiations on the basis of the results achieved so far but with a view of concluding two separate agreements, with Montenegro and with Serbia respectively. This means negotiating in the future with Serbia on the basis of amended directives and with Montenegro on the basis of new directives.

The Recommendation has no implications for the Commission's decision on 3 May 2006 to freeze the SAA negotiations as long as Serbia’s obligations are not fulfilled to co-operate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). However, the adoption of this amendment will enable the Commission to resume the negotiations rapidly as soon as the obligations towards the ICTY are fulfilled.

The proposed negotiating directives must be adopted by unanimity by the EU Member States.


The Stabilisation and Association Agreement is the first stage in the accession process for Balkan countries, creating a contractual relationship between a country and the European Union. The EU provides a generous financial assistance programme, called Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) to the Western Balkans.

The EU has already signed Stabilisation and Association Agreements with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Croatia, and Albania. Negotiations are ongoing with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The aim of the negotiations is to conclude the first comprehensive agreements between the EU and Montenegro and Serbia respectively, providing for wide-ranging co-operation to foster the integration of the country into EU structures.

The SAA should also promote economic and trade relations, with the perspective of establishing WTO-compatible free trade after a transitional period. The agreement will also bring the countries closer to EU rules in regulating the movement of workers, freedom of establishment, supply of services and movement of capital. The two agreements will include commitments by Montenegro and by Serbia respectively to align progressively their legislation with that of the Community (notably in key areas of the internal market).
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