Negotiations with Serbia on its accession to the European Union were opened on 21st of January 2014 at the first Intergovernmental Conference at Ministerial level. This follows a decision by the EU General Affairs Council on 25 June 2013 to open negotiations with Serbia.
Several countries in the Balkans have made progress on their way into the EU: Montenegro started accession negotiations with the EU in 2012. The European Commission has also recommended that membership negotiations start with Macedonia. In addition, Albania will probably be granted EU candidate status.
Most striking is the progress seen in Serbia, long considered the eternal troublemaker in the region. The governments of Serbia and Kosovo achieved an historic breakthrough in April 2013 when they completed an agreement concerning the normalisation of their relations. Critical to this agreement was Serbia's concession to dismantle its parallel structures in North Kosovo in exchange for the right to form an association of the Serb-inhabited municipalities and to grant them a high level of autonomy within Kosovo.
Although the EU does not ignore Serbia's deficits, prospects are good that the negotiations will still run smoothly. Serbia's aspiration to accelerate its EU integration process is also clearly influenced by Croatia's EU entry in July 2013, which demonstrated that the prospect of gaining membership can materialize if there is sufficient commitment by the applicant state.
Find out more about the process in this video.
More information on EU Enlargement on the EC website.
Sources: Council of the European Union Press Release and Tolksdorf Dominik: Start of EU Membership Negotiations With Serbia Could Further Stabilize the Western Balkans in The World Post, 10/16/2013