J. Joksimović: European integration is the best development agenda of every country
October 24 2018 | Belgrade
Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has said today that European integration is the best reform agenda for every country, regardless of when it will become a member of the EU and whether the EU will undergo certain transformations by then. Presenting the publication Guidelines for Use of EU Funds in Serbia IPA II (2014-2020) at the Belgrade Book Fair, Joksimović has said that Serbia, as a serious and mature country, will adapt to the changes that the EU is going through.
"I think that we will open a few more chapters for which we are ready by the end of the Austrian Presidency. We have fully prepared seven negotiating positions, and I believe that we will open at least three chapters by the end of this year," Joksimović has said, adding that this will enable each individual area to be regulated "just as the Government promised to its citizens".
She has explained that the presented publications should bring the work of the Ministry and the Government closer to the citizens, and provide information about what the candidate status means and what obligations and benefits it implies. According to her, this will result in a better understanding of the use of European funds, but also in the establishment of a society capable of using all the opportunities that the EU provides, both at the republic and the national level.
"As much as we invest our energy into negotiations with the EU, so that we would achieve the standards we all see as the ones necessary for our country - and I am not sure that we are always ready to act according to such standards - we at the Ministry, and I as a minister, invest the same amount of effort to show how important it is for us to use the pre-accession funds. Thus, when we become a member of the EU in five, seven, ten years, we will be able to use very large EU structural and cohesion funds for the benefit of the overall development of society," she has said.
She has stated that she understands Euroscepticism, but that the claims that citizens of some EU Member States live worse than they lived before their accession to the EU are not true, nor are they grounded in facts.
"The stories that we will be better off if we are not in the EU simply do not add up. This is evidenced by the experience of all those countries that have become members, and an important part of this are the European funds that are used to reduce inequality in the European regions, which is also our goal - to reduce inequalities in the regions of Serbia," she has stressed, adding that the ambition is for each district and region in Serbia to identify its potential, development capacity, and "instead of borrowing and taking out loans, we should use what we have available through the European funds".
Joksimović has said that being a Minister of European Integration in Serbia has never been an easy job, and that it is not her job to be popular, either in Serbia or in Brussels.
"The less popular in both Serbia and Brussels you are, the better you do your job," she has said, explaining that one should fight to protect the interests of their country in Brussels and not always accept everything, while on the "home-ground" one should coordinate processes and discuss about what is good, what is bad and what can be done better.
"Being a Minister of European Integration is not a matter of popularity, but of dedicated work that is difficult and arduous. European integration represents the best reform agenda for every country, regardless of when you will become a Member State and whether the EU will undergo certain transformations," she has said.
Joksimović has recalled that the EU is indisputably the largest donor to Serbia, and that each year it donates EUR 200 million in grants to Serbia through IPA funds.
Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi has said that the publications are very useful, further stressing that the EU is the first donor, investor and trading partner of Serbia. He has emphasised that the European Union is not only about the funds, but also about the values such as democracy, media freedom, security, environmental protection, free movement etc.
He has expressed his wish for Serbia to maintain its commitment on its path towards the EU, to undergo all transformative processes and "feel all the positive effects of that journey".
Bulgarian Ambassador to Serbia Radko Vlaykov has reflected on myths about the EU accession, and has told the citizens of Serbia that they should not fear that their identity would be compromised, and that Bulgaria, as a member of the EU, has kept both the Cyrillic script and rakia.
"All the nations that join the EU live better, and I think that all Serbia’s neighbours that are in the EU provide the best example of how the citizens, slowly but steadily, live better and better," Vlaykov has said, adding that Serbia has made great progress, and has assessed that the Ministry of European Integration is the most active ministry within the Government.