EU President Herman Van Rompuy says a decision by the European Union on whether to grant Serbia candidate status will be made in February. A decision originally had been expected at the EU summit on December 9.
However, new unrest on the tense north Kosovo border last month led a handful of EU nations, notably Germany, to demand further progress
Van Rompuy said at the EU summit in Brussels that Serbia has made "considerable progress" by arresting Europe's most wanted war crimes suspects and delivering them to international justice.
Van Rompuy said the 27-nation bloc would continue to monitor Belgrade's steps toward easing regional tension.
"We will continue to assess the situation and Serbia's commitment to shared objectives with the clear aim to grant Serbia the status of candidate country," he said.
Belgrade had hoped to win EU candidate status at this summit and the postponement is likely to cause disappointment.
Meanwhile, Van Rompuy said that Montenegro -- which became a candidate last year -- would open accession negotiations next June.
compiled from agency reports