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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mirko Cvetković, Prime Minister of Serbia

Press point

Brussels, 31 January 2011

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to welcome Prime Minister Cvetković to the European Commission.

We just had a very positive meeting. As you know, Serbia reached an important milestone on its path to the EU today.

Delivering the replies to some 2500 complex questions in the Commission's "questionnaire" required a lot of intensive work.

I have congratulated the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and their team for this impressive, professional, well-organized job and also for their dedication.

Now, the Commission will do its part of the "homework". We will assess the merits of Serbia's membership application. We will check whether Serbia has sufficiently met the criteria and will then decide whether to recommend candidate status and the opening of accession negotiations.

We aim to present this Commission Opinion to the Council in the second half of 2011.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While the Commission analyzes Serbia's replies, there is of course no "time-out". Moving closer towards joining the EU requires sustained efforts. It is therefore important that Serbia continues addressing the issues identified in the 2010 Progress Report. I welcomed the fact that the Prime Minister's Government adopted an Action Plan on these priorities.

This starts with full cooperation with the ICTY, which remains an essential condition for EU membership. Operations need to be enhanced and concrete results achieved in the search of the two remaining fugitives.

Furthermore, strengthening the rule of law and the fight against corruption and organised crime remain crucial for Serbia. The judicial reform is on a clear track, and Serbia should build on this. We have discussed this matter concretely. It is particularly important to address these key issues immediately, given that such reforms take time to produce results that we can really recognise.

Finally, on the dialogue with Kosovo: The EU hopes that Belgrade and Pristina seize this occasion to solve practical issues affecting the daily lives of all communities in Kosovo. I welcome Serbia's commitment to the dialogue and hope it starts quickly.

So to conclude, it is my pleasure to say that Serbia is on a positive track, and it should use the current momentum to make further progress.

2011 is a year of opportunities for Serbia. I am confident that Serbia will use them and will make the right choices that bring it a major step closer to the European Union.

Prime Minister, in doing so, you and your Government can of course count on the Commission's advice and full support. It was a pleasure meeting you and hearing directly from you the commitment that your government gives to this very important project for the future of Serbia and for the future of our Union.

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