Negotiation Chapter 1 – Free movement of goods is an exceptionally comprehensive chapter and therefore it primarily requires a good analysis and preparation for the implementation of EU legislation and standards. Only after those steps are done – the official opening of the chapter should follow. This was concluded at the first meeting of the Working Group on Chapter 1, held on October 27, 2014 within the framework of the National Convent on the European Union. European Policy Centre (CEP) coordinates this Working Group, which brought together representatives of civil society organisations and academic community, the EU Delegation to Serbia, Office for European Integration of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as well as numerous other interested participants. The study Free Movement of Goods in the Context of EU Membership Negotiations: Practical Issues, Opportunities and Challenges Regarding Serbia’s Efficient Integration into Single Market, produced by CEP, was presented at the event.

Tanja Miščević, Head of the Negotiating Team for Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union, stressed the importance of Chapter 1 as one of the reasons of the EU existence. This chapter is, according to her, the basis of the idea of European integration, the backbone of the European Union and therefore an area in which the Member States have so far achieved the highest level of integration. She also believes that Chapter 1 should not be opened too soon, since the adoption of European standards requires high costs. According to her, there is no need to rush with the opening of this chapter, but instead to first focus on the analysis of all the necessary steps, then on making a clear plan upon which the harmonisation would be done, and finally to start the negotiations. The process should therefore run in a more slow pace as this chapter is extensive and there is a high number of standards that should be included in the Serbian legislation. Once the previous steps are complete, as she pointed out, this chapter would be easy to close, as the ministries are very familiar with this area and the members of the Negotiating Groups understand all the steps in this process.She added that, based on the experiences of Croatian and Montenegrin negotiations, there would probably be three sets of benchmarks for the opening of this chapter.

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  • First Session of The NCEU Working Group On Chapter 1 – Free Movement Of Goods

    1_First meeting of the NCEU Working Group for the Free Movement of GoodsNegotiation Chapter 1 – Free movement of goods is an exceptionally comprehensive chapter and therefore it primarily requires a good analysis and preparation for the implementation of EU legislation and standards. Only after those steps are done – the official opening of the chapter should follow. This was concluded at the first meeting of the Working Group on Chapter 1, held on October 27, 2014 within the framework of the National Convent on the European Union. European Policy Centre (CEP) coordinates this Working Group, which brought together representatives of civil society organisations and academic community, the EU Delegation to Serbia, Office for European Integration of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as well as numerous other interested participants. The study Free Movement of Goods in the Context of EU Membership Negotiations: Practical Issues, Opportunities and Challenges Regarding Serbia’s Efficient Integration into Single Market, produced by CEP, was presented at the event.

    Tanja Miščević, Head of the Negotiating Team for Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union, stressed the importance of Chapter 1 as one of the reasons of the EU existence. This chapter is, according to her, the basis of the idea of European integration, the backbone of the European Union and therefore an area in which the Member States have so far achieved the highest level of integration. She also believes that Chapter 1 should not be opened too soon, since the adoption of European standards requires high costs. According to her, there is no need to rush with the opening of this chapter, but instead to first focus on the analysis of all the necessary steps, then on making a clear plan upon which the harmonisation would be done, and finally to start the negotiations. The process should therefore run in a more slow pace as this chapter is extensive and there is a high number of standards that should be included in the Serbian legislation. Once the previous steps are complete, as she pointed out, this chapter would be easy to close, as the ministries are very familiar with this area and the members of the Negotiating Groups understand all the steps in this process.She added that, based on the experiences of Croatian and Montenegrin negotiations, there would probably be three sets of benchmarks for the opening of this chapter.

    Jelena Spasić, Deputy Minister of Economy in charge of Economic Development, reminded that the Serbian economy was not competitive, and stressed the necessity to focus on exports. Since 99 percent of the enterprises belongs to the category of small and medium ones, it is necessary to work on their joint appearance on the market. Adopting the EU standards that apply in the European market would help SMEs enter to larger markets. However, she said, a serious impediment to export growth were structural problems, and also the problem of property – in the competitive export-oriented industries large number of enterprises are still in the state ownership. Jelena Spasić also warned that “a huge number of enterprises is not competitive when it comes to entrepreneurial knowledge” – there is insufficient dialogue and mechanisms in order to acquire this knowledge and greater initiatives by entrepreneurs themselves are also lacking. This is due to, as she added, the usual perception of entrepreneurship as a pure necessity for survival and not as an idea and innovation. Therefore, according to her, there is an urgent need to help SMEs realise the available opportunities, and review their capacities. An important role in this task belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, but the local level is also important, she added.

    2_First meeting of the NCEU Working Group for the Free Movement of Goods 3_First meeting of the NCEU Working Group for the Free Movement of Goods

    Dušanka Samardžić, Advisor to the President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce explained the extensiveness of Chapter 1 with the fact that there are 17 sub-groups within this chapter to cover all the areas: from motor vehicles to cosmetics and toys. She says that one the highest levels of harmonisation is achieved in this area, but the problem of the implementation remains. According to her, the Chamber of Commerce is actively involved in the European integration process and its team for monitoring of the negotiations includes around one hundred members. In addition, she stated that the Chamber had participated in training sessions for 3,500 business representatives.Since entrepreneurs are willing to be participate in a functioning economy, she says, they recognise the need to strengthen the capacity for taking on the membership obligations, and coordinate general horizontal issues in the free movement of goods area.

    In the second session, European Policy Centre presented its recent study Free Movement of Goods in the Context of EU Membership Negotiations: Practical Issues, Opportunities and Challenges Regarding Serbia’s Efficient Integration into Single Market.

    Nebojša Lazarević, director at CEP, made a short presentation on “What and How We Negotiate” with the aim to introduce the participants with the negotiation process and the structure of the actors in the process. He explained the individual steps of the country that negotiates, as well as mechanisms for including CSOs in those steps. In addition, when it comes to the free movement of goods, he emphasised that this chapter was specific because it included two different groups – on the one side there are producers and traders, and on the other consumers or consumer protection organisations. For the purposes of standardisation and technical requirements for products, as well as the overall safety of the product, he concluded that the horizontal legislation in Serbia was more or less well regulated, however, details that need to be particularly tackled, such as safety of toys and cosmetics, remain.

    Nataša Dragojlović from the European Movement in Serbia stressed out that CSOs in Serbia, each one within its own expertise, could provide an analytical support to the Government so that “maximisation of profit and minimisation of costs” is achieved during the negotiations. She particularly emphasised the necessity for a strong analytical support as a groundwork for decision makers to form the negotiating position. Therefore, it is important to establish a mechanism of “demand and supply of analysis”, she says. According to her, the National Convent on the EU, and the European Policy Centre as the coordinator of the Working Groups of Chapters 1 and 28, are exactly the mechanisms through which the civil society can contribute to both the government and citizens – by monitoring the negotiations, providing analytical support, such as creating comprehensive studies, as well as by informing the public.

    4_First meeting of the NCEU Working Group for the Free Movement of Goods 5_First meeting of the NCEU Working Group for the Free Movement of Goods

    Ksenija Simović, researcher at the CEP, presented the main findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Free Movement of Goods in the Context of EU Membership Negotiations study. According to her, entrepreneurs have to understand that horizontal legislation in the area of ​​free movement of goods will be their obligation from the moment they begin planning the product till launching it on the market. It is in their interest to get familiar with this legislation in details, in order to have safe and secure products successfully placed on the EU single market. In the end, she referred to the Serbia Progress Report 2014 of the European Commission and pointed out the main recommendations for this field.

    The aim of the study is to bring this legislation closer to the entrepreneurs. European Policy Centre produced this study in the framework of the Think Tank Young Professional Development Program funded by the Open Society Fund.

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