A panel discussion “From Slovak to Maltese Presidency of the Council: Passing the Torch in Times of Uncertainty and What for Enlargement?”, organised by CEP and the EU Info Centre, was held on Tuesday, 20 December. The panel was moderated by Milena Lazarevic, CEP Programme Director, while the panelists included H.E Michaell Davenport, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, H.E Dagmar Repčekova, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic in Serbia, Mr Fabian Psaila, Representative of Malta to the EU Council and Ms Tanja Miščević, Head of the Negotiating Team for Negotiations on the Accession of Serbia to the European Union. They discussed the achievements of the Slovak Presidency and the priorities of the Maltese Presidency, with a special focus on enlargement policy. The panel equally focused on Serbia’s position towards the topics addressed.
Ambassador of Slovakia to Serbia H.E. Dagmar Repčekova said that she was pleased with the Slovak Presidency of the EU and pointed out the budget for 2017 and the European Coast Guard as some of the greatest successes. The Ambassador said that the EU appreciates the readiness of Serbia to continue the integration and expressed her hope that the Maltese Presidency will continue the good trend with Serbia, which has opened four chapters for the past half year.
Mr Psaila said that Malta has been committed to the enlargement policy from the beginning and promised that his country, presiding over the Union, will continue the work and cooperation initiated in the mandate of the Slovak and Dutch Presidency, in favour of the success of Serbia on the road to membership. Mr Psaila pointed out that Malta will aim towards promoting the Union and restoring the confidence of citizens: “It is rather a philosophy than a six-month job.”
The head of the Serbian Negotiating Team Ms Tanja Miščević pointed out that European security cannot be complete without the Western Balkans: “The enlargement policy can help in the functioning of the EU, its rebuilding and the process of European integration, the Western Balkan countries have shown that they are good partners for the EU in overcoming the migrant crisis and respecting European values”. Ms Miščević pointed to the possible opening of chapters in the first half of 2017, among which are Chapter 7 about Intellectual Property, Chapter 29 on customs union, Chapter 33 on the budget and other issues and Chapter 13 on fisheries, stressing that the opening of the chapters is not as important as their substance.
Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia H.E Michael Davenport said that the EU is in an age full of challenges, pointing to the terrorist attacks: “We are with the families of the victims of yesterday’s horrific attack in Berlin, as well as attacks elsewhere. I think that 2016 was the year with an excessive number of attacks.” H.E Devenport pointed out that this year has been significant in terms of achievements on the path of accession to the EU that Serbia showed, and emphasised that the areas of economic governance, the rule of law and public administration reform will be particularly important in the upcoming period.
H.E Kristin Moro, Ambassador of France in Belgrade, also attended the event. She engaged in the discussion after the panelists, emphasising the importance of the Berlin Process in the EU’s enlargement policy.