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J. Joksimović: Changing the methodology should proceed in the direction of quality and speed of the accession process, and not the other way around

January 01 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Changing the methodology should proceed in the direction of quality and speed of the accession process, and not the other way around

Jadranka Joksimović, Minister of European Integration of Serbia, has spoken about Serbia's European integration process in 2019 and expectations for 2020, the announced reform of the enlargement process, as well as about the expectations from the EU-Western Balkans Summit which is to be held during the Croatian Presidency over the EU in May in Zagreb.

  • How do you assess Serbia's European integration process in 2019?

Serbia's European integration process in 2019 has been overwhelmed by a wave of dilemmas concerning the future of the reform, both in terms of the EU and the enlargement policy. No one remained immune to this debate - neither the Member States nor the EU institutions, candidate countries and potential candidates. In that sense, the dynamics were also slower than during the previous years; hence, we opened a total of two chapters in 2019. This was deemed insufficient in respect of the significant results of the reform process and the progress of Serbia, while also being significant in the context of the increased lack of will for enlargement among the EU Member States. Therefore, relatively bearable, if only not to lose such pace however it may be, but with a clear need to accelerate the process both in our country and within the EU.

  • What are your expectations in 2020?

I expect exactly what I have said beforehand, that the EU's views will finally adjust to the reality, which reads that a credible enlargement policy was handed over to this European Commission by the previous EC, that the EU has objective interests and benefits from the enlargement and the so-called region of the European Western Balkans and especially, I daresay, from Serbia, if the EU wants, and it does, to increase its competitiveness on the international political, economic, security and "soft" power level through the value framework of the European way of life. I expect that this shall also result in better dynamics and a clear political will both within the EU and in Serbia.

  • Based on what is known about Macron's idea of reforming the enlargement process, what can we expect from these novelties?

Serbia has a clear negotiating framework for conducting its accession negotiations with the EU. We are deep in the process of accession negotiations, have opened more than half of the negotiation chapters, and it is unlikely that a substantive change of the rules would be made in our case, whatever change in methodology would be agreed between the Member States. We certainly do follow the debate, while also providing our constructive contribution to the debate, outlining the manner in which we negotiate, but we also expect that any change in methodology should proceed in the direction of improving the quality and speed of the accession process, and not the other way around.

It seems to me that everyone forgets that the accession process represents a synergy of two political wills in respect of integration - both of the EU and the negotiating countries; the candidates are more than entitled to give their judgment and opinion on the methodology. Unless the intention of this change is to discourage the will of the candidate country, and I believe that this is not the intention of the Member States.

  • What are your expectations from the EU-Western Balkans Summit to be held in Zagreb in May - can it bring anything actually concrete to the matter?

It is good and important to set up a regular format for the EU-Western Balkans Summit, which began almost 20 years ago, and which, in its time, lent a hand and opened the doors to numerous Balkans countries. In the meantime, some of these countries have become EU members, while for some of us this process has yet to be completed. Certain decisions shall certainly be taken even before the Summit, but shall also be formalized at it, primarily in regards to the dialogue on the methodology of negotiations for those awaiting the opening of negotiations, but also in regards to the overall future of the enlargement policy.

Source: euractiv.rs.