June 22, 2017 – On 1th July, Estonia assumed the six-month presidency of the EU Council from Malta. 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?
The panellists were Tanja Miščević, Head of Negotiating Team for Negotiation of Serbia’s EU Accession, Oskar Benedikt, Head of EU Delegation in Serbia, Victor Camilleri, the Executive Director of the Maltese EU Presidency, and Daniel Erik Schaer, Estonian Ambassador to Serbia. The discussion was moderated by Milena Lazarević, CEP’s Programme Director.
Miščević stated that Serbia’s readiness for the EU negotiation process is only half of the story and that the rest depends on developments within the EU. She emphasised that Serbia must build its own stance on each of the policies in the 35 negotiating chapters and think about what its contribution to the Union is.
Benedikt said that the changing EU Presidency should not have an impact on Serbia, as the European Commission is committed to enlargement that should be ‘smooth’ in Serbia’s case. He pointed out that the Delegation will do everything it can to aid and support Serbia in implementing reforms and making progress in the negotiations.
Camilleri stated that he believes that EU integration for Serbia is continual, always in progress, although its rapprochement also depends on the extent to which the EU’s readiness.
Lazarević said that the support for the EU among citizens was very high when Serbia was granted with visa liberalisation and that new ways should be devised to bring citizens closer to EU policies that continue contributing to their prosperity, in order to increase their support for the EU accession.
Schaer indicated that Estonia will strive to persuade all EU member states in the next six months that opening chapters is “the right path” for Serbia, as well as that he believes that problems that the EU is faced with, such as Brexit, will not be a problem and influence Serbia’s EU accession. “Our position is very clear: The future of the Western Balkans is in the EU.“ he concluded.