Serbia is closer to be an official candidate for the EU membership

The General Affairs Council meeting ended with the agreement of recommending the status of candidate country to Serbia, following its application for EU membership. On the other hand, it also approved, without discussion, strengthened measures against the Belarusian regime. In response to this decision, the Belarusian authorities asked to the EU Head of Delegation and the Polish Ambassador to leave the country.

Following Serbian application for the EU membership and after examination of the candidature, the Council has recommended to grant Serbia candidate status and looks forward to the confirmation of this decision by the March European Council. Ministers have examined and confirmed that Serbia has continued to show credible commitment and achieved further progress in moving forward with the implementation in good faith of agreements reached in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, and has actively cooperated to enable EULEX and KFOR to execute their mandates.

On the other hand, the Council also adopted reinforced restrictive measures against the Belorusian regime. Therefore, the Council added 21 persons responsible for the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition in Belarus to the list of those targeted by a travel ban and an asset freeze. Moreover, the assets of three companies linked to the regime remain frozen while exports to Belarus of arms and material for internal repression are prohibited. At the same time, Belarusian authorities requested to the Head of the EU Delegation in Minsk and the Ambassador of Poland to Belarus leave the country.

Ministers also adopted at the General Affairs Council a regulation setting technical requirements for credit transfers and direct debit transactions in euros. Its adoption follows an agreement reached with the European Parliament at first reading. The regulation constitutes a key element of SEPA, the single euro payments area, setting deadlines for migration from national to EU-wide payment instruments.