EU Accession Policy Remains a Priority

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There is no dilemma – the EU accession policy remains a priority after the formation of the new Government. The accession process will remain an inseparable part of the reform policy, says JADRANKA JOKSIMOVIĆ, Serbian Minister without portfolio Responsible for European integration.

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We have done everything in our power and deserved the opening of the chapters”, this was the sentence that we have often uttered in the days before the opening of Chapters 23 and 24. This sentence has not only reflected our position, but it also represents the essence of the process which consists of the acceptance and implementation of clearly defined standards. Serbia has fulfilled clear criteria and the chapters have been opened. Of course, there is still a lot of work ahead of us regarding the implementation of the standards, which is critical for the concrete progress which will be felt by every citizen of our country. The fact that we have already implemented nearly 80% of the planned commitments at this stage, despite the chapters not having been opened, clearly shows how much we are committed to this.

The essence of European integration is the creation of a regulated society and state, in which the citizens will receive adequate and efficient service for the services paid to the state, and where the rule of law will mean certainty and stability for the citizens, for business, and for investments. The opening of Chapters 23 and 24 will accelerate the reforms in the areas that are important for the citizens – from the fight against corruption, especially in areas where most citizens are faced with corruption (health, education, police, local government, etc.), to judicial reform towards more efficient and quality processes, fight against organised crime, rule of law, more secure legal environment for attracting new investments and jobs, minority rights, situation in the media…

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There is no dilemma – the EU accession policy remains a priority after the formation of the new Government. The accession process will remain an inseparable part of the reform policy, an integral part of internal development policy, which will be treated as an investment in healthy foundations for building a functional and efficient state and a higher standard of living for its citizens. Such approach proved to be the only one that can yield results. We will not raise the expectations of citizens based on unrealistic grounds – instead, formal steps in the negotiations will be based on the results achieved. We haven’t been giving unrealistic promises, we haven’t been saying that it can be easily accomplished, and we haven’t been saying that we will live better today already. Instead, we have shown that we are a state that thinks seriously about its development and that we have a clear strategic plan – not only about what will happen tomorrow, but also what will happen in ten, fifteen or twenty years. We are leading Serbia on its path of European integration as an important instrument for the recovery of our domestic economy and overall development, which will be felt as prosperity by each citizen of our country. Through responsible and disciplined policy, and primarily through economic policy, along with attracting new investments, Serbia is surely marching, primarily, towards sustainable economic recovery and progress. I am convinced that this is one of the reasons why the citizens still strongly support the reforms.  With their support, our people have demonstrated maturity and the desire for progress. Of course, one part of our public exhibits eurosceptic views, which is to be expected since the support to European integrations in the Member States, as well as in the candidate countries, is not immune to the overall context of international relations at the time when the candidate begins or is in the process of negotiations. Joining the EU is a process fraught with challenges, but also with significant and concrete benefits for the state and its citizens. It is important to present the concrete benefits from the process to the citizens. The fact is that, despite all the challenges with which the EU is facing, it remains the best place to live and work.

We strive to make the process transparent, and not be tied to the elite. The openness of the negotiation process is our imperative, because we are all owners of the process that will affect the lives of us all. Serbia has gained important partners in the world by its responsible and truly dedicated policy. For Serbia as a candidate for EU membership, the message that is these days coming from the EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, and many others, that they support the enlargement policy based on fulfilled criteria and respect for fair rules for membership, is also important. It is a fact that all countries have gone through some kind of political conditioning. Some countries have become members owing to some more favourable international circumstances for them, even though they were not fully prepared. Many would expect us to protest and be angry because of this.

However, since we care to reform the society, we continue to work hard, not wasting our time looking at great global debates, which we are prone to, and trying not to miss real opportunities for progress. Only turning towards pragmatism and solving specific life issues on realistic grounds can lead to the goals we all strive to achieve.

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