Yana Mikhailova, President of the Foreign Investors Council: FIC inspires positive changes

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Mutual collaboration is needed for bringing Serbian market closer to EU rules and practices. Therefore, FIC regularly shares its analysis of proposals for policy reforms with EU institutions, Serbian Government as well as all other important stakeholders. In our focus today are, among other things, structural reforms and strengthening of the tax administration

Serbia needs to speed up the reforms and accelerate accession negotiations if it wants to catch up with EU level of economic development says Yana Mikhailova, President of the Foreign Investors Council. Each year, for the last five years, FIC regularly engages in a dialogue with the EU institutions, with the aim to assist the process by offering its analyses and recommendations on improvement of economic policies.

What do you see as the most important value of the exchange of views between FIC and EU representatives for the Serbian EU accession process?

The traditional dialogue with EU institutions that FIC has for five years now is a very important step for gaining and sharing most updated information regarding business climate in Serbia. FIC believes that it is of crucial importance that Serbia uses this momentum to accelerate reforms. By engaging in direct communication with representatives of various EU institutions as well as Serbian Government, and sharing deep understanding of both EU and Serbian markets, we provide active support to the process of EU integration and thus can help the acceleration of reforms. European institutions were as always encouraged to actively support Serbia, because mutual collaboration is needed for bringing Serbian market closer to EU rules and practices.

How this dialogue evolved over the last five years and what were the most tangible effects so far?

As every dialogue on regular basis, this dialogue of course evolved over time. In particular, exchange of information about key challenges in the Serbian business climate proved to be beneficial for the process of EU negotiations, especially when it comes to law implementation in Serbia. During the years, and as a follow up of each visit, FIC regularly and meticulously continued to share with all parties, meaning EU institutions, Serbian Government as well as all other important stakeholders, its analysis of current and future regulations providing proposals for their improvement. The most tangible results achieved so far, reflect in subsequent positive changes of many different laws important for doing business on this market. Implementation of FIC proposals would bring benefits to the citizens, the state and all investors and will definitely raise the overall business climate to a higher level. This is the ultimate goal of the Foreign Investors Council.

What was your major message for the EU interlocutors this year?

During visit this year, FIC conveyed that Serbia continues steady but moderate progress in reforms, which has secured stability, but is not enough to reach the set goal. In order to catch up with EU level of economic development – stronger economy and higher standard of living – Serbia needs to speed up the reforms and accelerate accession negotiations.

How do you see your role in accelerating the Serbian EU accession process and the pace of reforms?

FIC is ready to be a private sector focal point in the EU negotiation process. We have a unique capability to provide active support to the process of EU integration, as over 70% of FIC members come from EU and other members have footprint on EU market. Thus, FIC has deep understanding of both EU and Serbian markets and can help the smooth transition of Serbian market into EU.

What should be at the top of the Government’s list when it comes to the alignment of the business climate in Serbia with the EU standards?

Special attention needs to be devoted to achieving sustainable fiscal consolidation (structural reforms, especially privatization and corporatization of state-owned enterprises) and improving law implementation, especially in tax area (strengthening tax administration). In the discussions with EU institutions, we underlined instrumental importance of reforms in the following fields: tax, labour, trade and inspections, food safety, real-estate, digitalization& e-commerce, telecommunications, and general legal framework (specifically bankruptcy and foreign exchange regulations).

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