On 1th July, Estonia from Malta assumes six-month presidency of the EU Council. On that occasion, in cooperation with the EU Info Centre, CEP organized a panel discussion “From Malta to Estonia – what’s in store for the next EU Presidency”?
On the panel discussion is estimated that Serbia during the Estonian Presidency will without any problem continue the process of European integration and that Estonia can expect support.
Head of Negotiating Team for Negotiation of Serbia’s EU Accession Tanja Miščević believes that Serbia’s readiness for the EU negotiation process is only half of the story and the rest of it depends on the development of the situation within the EU. Miščević stated that Serbia must build its own stance on each of the policies in the 35 negotiating chapters as well as to think about what its contribution to the Union is. She informed Serbia that at the Intergovernmental Conference she handed over negotiating positions for Chapter 6 (Company Law) and 33 (Finance and Budget Issues). At the beginning of July, in Tallinn, Serbia will present its plans in the next six months, Miščević adds.
Head of EU Delegation in Serbia’s Oskar Benedikt said that changing the EU Presidency should not have an impact on Serbia, as the European Commission is committed to an extension that will be “smooth” in Serbia’s case, pointing out that the Delegation will do everything it can To help and support Serbia in implementing reforms and progress in the negotiations. He has estimated that for the last six months he has been successful for Serbia since he has opened four chapters and has now reached a total of 10.
The Executive Director of the Maltese EU Presidency Victor Camilleri said that Malta was satisfied with what Serbia achieved during its presidency. He believes that European integration for Serbia does not stand, that they always move, although its rapprochement also depends on the extent to which the EU is ready. The benefits of membership are visible at this time and that students, businessmen and the general public recognize it, concludes Camilleri.
Programme Director of the European Policy Centre – CEP Milena Lazarevic, who moderated the discussion, said that support for EU citizenship was very high when Serbia was granted with visa liberalization and that new ways should be devised to bring citizens closer to EU policies that serve and contributing to their prosperity, in order to increase their support for EU entry.
Estonian Ambassador to Serbia Daniel Erik Schaer said that Estonia would strive to persuade all EU members in the next six months to open the chapter “the right path” for Serbia, as well as that he does not think that problems that load the EU, such as Brexit, will be a problem and influence Serbia’s EU accession. He stressed the importance of accepting European values for all the countries that want to become members, as well as that Estonia is a strong advocate of enlargement policy and that if Serbia does its homework and meets the criteria, chapters will open.
“Our position is very clear: The future of the Western Balkans is in the EU,” Schaer said.
The panel brought together representatives of the Government of Serbia, a diplomatic, donor and expert community in Serbia, representatives of civil society organizations and students.